Here we feature the Laura’s Lean Beef company, a branded beef programme (based on Limousin) with over 6,700 stores in 47 US states. The following is the paper given by John Tobe, company chairman, at the 2010 British Cattle Breeders Conference.

John TobeCompany Background                                                                                           

Laura’s Lean Beef Company was founded in 1985 by Laura Freeman, my former partner, and I associated with her in 1991 when sales were at about $1 million.  My background before Laura’s included CEO of Long John Silver’s Fish & Chips, CFO of Long John Silver’s, owner of Englewood Farm, a cattle farm in Lancaster, KY, and a partner in national CPA firm.

Laura’s program was designed to add incremental sales to retailers’ red meat sales by attracting the health conscious consumers who avoided red meats in their diets because of high fat contents.  We have been told we are the largest lean and naturally-raised branded beef (no antibiotics or growth hormones) company in the world.

A Few Things That Set Laura’s Lean Beef Apart from our competition.

Laura’s is the only branded meat in the US that is both naturally-raised and low-fat on all cuts and grinds.  Over the past 24 years of proven brand building Laura’s sales are now over $150 million in 6,700 stores and in 47 states.  We have achieved over 10% compounded annual growth rate over the last 10 years in wholesale dollars and pounds.  Laura’s 96% Lean Ground Round, Ground Sirloin, Sirloin Steak, Precooked Pot Roast and Precooked Barbecue are all certified by the American Heart Association and the Good Housekeeping Seal.

National advertising and marketing helps Laura’s create consumer demand and store traffic.  We were recognized in 2008 by Advertising Age as a “Marketing 50” award winner along with other winners like Coke Zero, I Phone, JC Penney, Jenny Craig, Facebook and other major advertisers.


Laura’s has Distribution in 6,700 Stores in 47 states as shown below by present retailers.


Lauras Distribution Map


We’re reaching the customer…where she/he is.  Over 85% of our products are purchased by women. is our website and we have over 100,000 store searches a year and another 1.8 million hits for low-fat recipes, cooking videos and instant coupons.

We also interface with Health Professionals which include 16,000 dietitians in our program who recommend Laura’s to their patients.  National advertising includes ads in all top health and cooking publications, websites and the use of Point-of-sale in most retail stores which includes recipes, nutrition information and signage.

Search engine marketing targets the most relevant potential customers for Laura’s Lean Beef.  In addition, direct mail is sent quarterly to 350,000 members in our Preferred Customer program and email newsletter to over 100,000 subscribers.  The Laura’s Lean Beef customer is very loyal and profitable for both Laura’s and our retail partners.


Good Housekeeping

The Good Housekeeping Seal of approval was awarded in January 2009 for our full product line.  Our print campaign with the seal makes a total of 104 million brand impressions annually. Advertising has been placed in 4 issues:  February, April, July and October 2009 with great success. There were also editorial articles in February issue featured Laura’s pre-cooked as 3 of the top 100 healthy convenience foods inAmericaand in the September issue, the magazine featured Laura’s BBQ as one of 100 problems solved by the Seal.


Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers advertising was started in 2008 for one quarter of advertising and our 2009 campaign ran April 1 through October 31.  Laura’s was integrated throughout this year with a microsite, banner ads, email newsletter ads and recipes with Program POINTS defined.  Total reach last year was 26 million dieters throughout the campaign flight and they did 61,000 store searches; 77,000 Preferred Customer signups; and an average of 4,900 daily page views on our website.


2010 Marketing Preview

Good Housekeeping and The American Heart Association are teaming up on a year-long, national cross promotion which Laura’s Lean Beef is sponsoring!  This is a perfect fit because Laura’s is the only red meat company to have products certified by both the AHA and the Good Housekeeping Seal.  Our successful WeightWatchers partnership continues and we’ll introduce an exciting new campaign starting next spring!  In early 2010, we’re planning a face-to-face media blitz with the editors of many top lifestyle magazines, targeting publicity in the summer and fall issues.


Other Marketing Initiatives…

We also do on pack promotions where we will expand sales through greater visibility and excitement at the meat case. Currently promoting our e-marketing and e-coupons through peel-away stickers. New Public relations with coverage in Meatingplace, Meat & Deli Retailer and Supermarket News. The purpose of these media tours is to present the brand story to top national consumer publications.

Health Professional marketing will include exhibits at several state dietetic conferences. We also will exhibit at the national American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and the national Diabetes Educators conference.  The Website will be refreshed with upgraded graphics and feature a better search engine optimization.  The faster load times will improve our customers’ experience online and should increase traffic!

New Cooking videos will be launched giving instructional and branded cooking demos for our website, email newsletters, Youtube, Myspace Video, Twitter and more.


Product Line 

Laura’s Fresh Grind Varieties include the following grinds:  92% Lean Ground Beef; 92% Lean Ground Beef Patties; 96% Lean Ground Round; and 96% Lean Ground Sirloin.  All of these grinds are available in multiple packaging technologies to meet customer and account needs.  The case ready grinds are available in Hi-Oxygen and Tri-Gas Case Ready.


Convenience Line of Precooked and Frozen Products

Laura’s fully Cooked Entrees of Shredded Beef with Barbecue Sauce; Pot Roast Au Jus; and Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce are an added feature of the brand.  We also provide 1/4 pound frozen Ground Beef Patties of 92% Lean in two pound boxes. 

In addition to grinds, the Whole Muscle Cut Packaging Options include

Combo packs of Steak: ribeye (split), strip (split), center sirloin, sirloin cap & flank. Roast: eye of round & top round

Individual cases of Tenderloin in 20 pound cases, Ribeye, Strip, Sirloin, Top Round and Eye of Round are also available in sixty pound cases.


Tenderness and Palatability Test

A Palatability Assessment of Laura’s Lean Beef and Piedmontese Programs were conducted by Oklahoma State University Meat Science Group and a report was issued on May 22, 2000

The tests professionals use a pressure sheer force value of 10 pounds or less for obtaining tenderness.   These tests were on strip steaks which is the toughest of all middle meats cuts.

Cow/Calf Producer

High percentage of Continental Cattle (>75%) that are medium to large framed and

Lean.  Heavily muscledLimousincross cattle are Laura’s preferred fed cattle

Cattle must be raised with No antibiotics by injections, medicated minerals, or ionophores (Rumensin) and No added hormones which includes growth implants or reproductive synchronization hormones from birth to slaughter.

Cattle Must be weaned; pre-conditioned (45 days); castrated; vaccinated (twice) (Clostridials (Blackleg), Respiratory, H. Somnus); and wormed and dehorned

Cow/Calf Incentives include premium over the market prices for calves and yearlings; consistent outlet for weaned calves; carcass data and cow/calf bonus based on carcass performance.


Backgrounding Program

We believe the leanness of finished cattle is improved if they are put on grass or silage until they reach 700 to 800 pounds.  The cattle are contracted with the person who will background them for Laura’s Lean Beef.  During this phase, we expect the calves to gain 1.0 – 1.5 pounds per day.



Laura’s Lean Beef does NOT permit any feed with animal tissue/animal by-products, fecal material and artificial roughages.


F94L Power Gene

Limousin “Power” Gene F94L is a ‘Friendly’ form of the myostatin gene.  The F94L occurs in mostLimousincattle (94%U.S.) but virtually no other breed.  The gene causes increased muscle without double muscling, calving difficulties or decreased reproduction. Its most important attribute is that it improves tenderness in homozygous (2-copy) animals.

LLBhas agreed to pay an increased cow/calf bonus to cow/calf producers that demonstrate their calves came from bulls that are Homozygous (2-copy) for F94L.  Laura’s will pay a 50% cow calf bonus instead of the usually 35% to producers with bulls tested Homozygous (2-copy) for F94L. 

Laura’s Lean Beef merged with Meyer Natural Beef in December 2007 and we started a new program to find cattle that work in both programs.

These new fed cattle are source from 50% Red Angus / 50% Red Limousin bulls to breed cows that are at least 50% Angus.  Red Limousin bulls and cows are required to have two copies of the Myostatin gene. DNAtests will be done at first vaccination to determine if cattle fit Laura’s or Meyer program. DNAtests will be for internal marbling, ribeye size, and tenderness. The accuracy of theseDNAtests is expected to be 90+% range.  The Laura’s cattle would be fed to 1,100 weight and the Meyer cattle to 1,400 weight.


The Laura’s Lean Beef Mission for Family Farmers, Retailers and Customers

Family Farmers that raise cattle for Laura’s Lean Beef are provided a sustainable above market price marketing opportunity for their cattle to meet our production standards and they are required to keep the farm in a sustainable manner as well.

Retailer obtain incremental beef sale opportunities by attracting customers who would otherwise rarely eat beef and these customers also buys other more upscale products at full retail in other areas of the grocery store.

Customers are provided a lean and naturally raised beef that is tender and palatable to support their healthy lifestyle.  The baby boomers and their children are the largest users of Laura’s Lean Beef.