Retail Beef

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D.R. Cattle

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2003
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East Central Florida
I'm not sure what retailers are located in everyone's area, but of the several in my area, I have found that Sam's Wholesale has the best beef hands down. Of course their beef is labeled USDA Choice like most others, but I can never understand why the difference. I'm wondering is there actually a "High" choice and a "Low" choice that most consumers are not aware of? Just a curious consumer.
yes, there is a high choice & a low choice. i think some of the upper middle-class restaurants like Outback serve high choice.
Yes, there are Choice, mid-Choice and high-Choice grades. Same with Prime and Select grades. Certified Angus Beef (CAB) is mid-Choice or better, as is EXCEL's Sterling Silver branded beef program. I think Outback sells Sterling Silver. Choice beef is more likely to be tender than Select. Consumers prefer marbled beef and Choice has more of that than Select. In my small town, we have to buy beef from a meat market to get Choice. Our supermarkets all sell Select beef. If the beef grade isn't printed on the label, chances are it's Select. Consumers pay more for Choice beef at the supermarket, packers pay more for Choice beef when they buy cattle from the feedlot on a grid, and the feeders are willing to pay ranchers more for cattle that they think will grade Choice.
When I buy say a whole strip or tenderloin, it never indicates anything more than choice. Never high, medium or low choice. And it should being that it is still in the packaging direct from the processor. I still don't understand it. The average consumer isn't educated very well of this, and obviously becomes dissapointed with low choice. I nearly quit buying it retail and was going to start slaughtering from my own herd I was so dissapointed. I eventually found an outlet to get this "high choice" and it was actually cheaper than anywhere else. On a side note- I bought whole beef tenderloin for 15/lb right before Christmas. Now the same package is down to 11-12/lb. Our local livestock markets are still whopping out some excellent prices for feeders and slaughter cows. Close or the same as before the BSE incident. Hmmm???? :? Short term retail gig or eventual trickle down to the producer?
You won't find much Mid-Choice or higher beef sold as commodity beef at retail. By far, most of it goes to a branded beef program or to the restaurant business. Same with Prime. Most of our Prime beef was shipped to Japan (pre-BSE). There is never enough Choice to meet demand, which is why everyone in the supply chain is willing to pay more for Choice beef or cattle that they expect will grade Choice. And we produce even less Mid- and High-Choice. Are you buying a branded beef?
What I buy is in the Kryovac packaging and it is from Excel. USDA Choice grade sticker is the only other marking I have found. I'm happy with the quality, but have yet to determine how to tell the difference between multiple choice grades. The only place that sells select grade here is Wal Mart. That stuff sucks. Or maybe I'm just spoiled in my beef tastes. Nevertheless, at least I have confirmed my suspicion about multiple grades within the choice category.

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