TYSON TO INTRODUCE NATURAL ANGUS PRODUCTS

SPRINGDALE, Ark. - Tyson Foods here will introduce two natural Angus beef product lines to retail and food-service customers on a limited basis next month."Consumer demand for natural beef is increasing and we believe there's an opportunity for us to grow with it," said Noel White, group vice president, Tyson Fresh Meats, in a statement. "While we have every confidence in our traditional beef products,

SPRINGDALE, Ark. - Tyson Foods here will introduce two natural Angus beef product lines to retail and food-service customers on a limited basis next month.

"Consumer demand for natural beef is increasing and we believe there's an opportunity for us to grow with it," said Noel White, group vice president, Tyson Fresh Meats, in a statement. "While we have every confidence in our traditional beef products, we also believe in giving our customers a choice."

The products, a Certified Angus Beef brand natural beef product and Star Ranch Natural Angus Beef, are the result of a 14-year partnership between Tyson and CAB. The Star Ranch Natural brand product will be managed solely by Tyson Foods. The Beef Marketing Group, a cooperative of Kansas and Nebraska feed yards, will work to ensure the integrity of the natural cattle production methods used to produce these products.

The meats will come from black Angus cattle that have never received antibiotics or hormones and have been given a 100% grass and grain diet, according to Tyson. The cattle will be source verified to birth and fed in feed yards designated for natural beef.

"We believe our efforts to source naturally raised cattle and following proper animal handling and feeding protocols, will provide consumers with another high-quality protein choice," White said. "In fact, we believe this program will raise the standard for performance in the production of fresh, natural beef.

"The CAB brand and Star Ranch Angus Beef have been very successful programs for Tyson and we're excited to add natural product lines to both," he said.

The manner in which these cattle are raised is also expected to increase costs for consumers.

"The retail price for the products will ultimately be determined by our [retailer] customers," said Gary Michelson, spokesman, Tyson Foods. "However, because of the additional costs involved in producing natural beef products and because this is a niche market, we expect the products to receive a premium."

All the cattle raised for the CAB Natural and Star Ranch Natural Angus must meet the same specifications for natural beef. CAB brand Natural is part of the top levels of USDA Choice grade beef because it has a modest or higher marbling requirement that falls into the upper two-thirds of USDA Choice, according to Michelson. Star Ranch Natural is an all-natural program that includes both USDA Select grade and Choice product.

The Beef Marketing Group's director of quality control assurance manages the natural program, Michelson said.

"Each participating BMG feedlot has an on-site feedlot manager designated to ensure the integrity of natural cattle production," he said. "Internal audits are also conducted randomly to guarantee compliance and participating producers must maintain paperwork for every group of animals."