Tyson’s Brazen Beef now available

Climate friendly brand expanding

Brazen Beef, a new product line from Tyson Foods touted as climate friendly, is available in some stores now and expected to roll out nationally in the coming months.

To qualify for Tyson's Brazen Beef brand, the cattle must have a documented 10% reduced greenhouse gas emissions from pasture to production when compared with cattle produced through conventional methods, according to the company. The program is part of Springdale-based Tyson's Climate Smart Beef Program.

The United States Department of Agriculture approved Tyson Foods use of the "climate friendly" claim with corresponding taglines and qualifiers for Brazen Beef.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service considers these type of labeling assertions to be sustainability or environmental stewardship claims, a spokesman for the service said in a statement. Products under the service's jurisdiction are required to submit labels with these sorts of claims to the service for review and approval before they can be used on products. Through the review process, the service ensures the claims are "truthful and not misleading."

"For the data collection process, the animals are tracked through individual electronic identification tags from ranch through harvest," Justin Ransom, senior director, Sustainable Food Policy for Tyson Foods said in response to emailed questions. "The IDs are captured and reconciled within a specialized data management system that houses all respective information and calculates reduction for each animal."

Tyson has been working in recent years to improve and expand on its sustainability efforts.

In December the USDA allocated $325 million as part of the second round of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding aimed at sustainability in agriculture. While not related directly to the Brazen Beef brand, Tyson Foods saw up to $60 million in funding for pilot programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in beef production and row crops for livestock feed like corn, and to provide technical assistance and incentive payments to small and underserved producers, the Democrat-Gazette reported in mid-December.

In response to emailed questions, Alan Ellstrand, professor of management and associate dean of programs and research at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, said Brazen Beef is a niche segment but for the right consumer, it might have some attraction.

"Cattle and cattle ranching have a major impact on the environment/climate change so even a 10% reduction is fairly significant," he said. "I think this is a good move for Tyson -- there is a segment of the population that will be attracted to lower-impact beef and these consumers are likely less price sensitive than others, so the product aligns well with these consumers."

In May, Tyson reported a surprise $97 million loss for its second quarter, citing a rare triple hit where all of its meat segments -- beef, pork and chicken -- suffered from high input costs and inflationary pressure on consumers. The company reduced its sales guidance on the news, projecting sales of $53 billion to $54 billion for fiscal 2023, down from $55 billion to $57 billion. That's an expectation of flat to 1% sales growth compared with 3% to 7% previously anticipated. Tyson Foods said its beef margins are now expected to see a range of a 1% loss to 1% for the year, down from 2% to 4% the year ago.

The company's stock price sagged on the news, falling more than 15% in a single day. Since then, the shares have been trading for about $50 -- a 19% decline since the first of the year.

Brazen Beef is available now in select markets in the Northeast through a deal with Schweid & Sons -- a specialty ground beef supplier to grocers and restaurants. Plans are in motion for a product release with a major retailer later this year, but just who that is is still hush-hush.

Beef prices for consumers continue to edge upward according to USDA data. In May, the value of the choice retail category of beef stood at $8.08 a pound, up 3% from $7.85 the month before and up 5% from $7.67 for the year ago period. For 2022, the average price per pound for choice beef was $7.58 a pound, a record year.

Cattle that are used for the Brazen Beef brand are grass-fed and grain-finished, according to Tyson Foods. Product pricing will depend on retailers but its expected the brand will be sold at higher prices compared to conventional beef -- in part because consumers see value in climate friendly beef.

Tyson Foods said establishing a supplier network for the new brand is challenging, but things are progressing well.

"At the beginning, we had to do a lot of work communicating with ranchers and gathering the data that allowed us to build our model," Ransom explained. "Now that the farmers and ranchers know exactly what information we want, we are working to scale up the Climate-Smart Beef value chain more quickly and efficiently."

Upcoming Events