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About the Brand

There are nearly 100 Angus branded beef programs monitored by the USDA, but the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand is the only one owned by the American Angus Association and its members.

The Association formed the CAB brand in 1978 as a not for profit company that owns only the trademarks it uses. Our company functions independently from the Association through the guidance of nine directors, which include five members of the Association board.

  • 10 Specifications
  • Supplying the Brand
  • History & Mission
  • Beef Grading

Ten Specifications

Our quality standards ensure that every carcass earning the CAB brand offers consumers the same exceptional eating experience. To earn the stamp of the brand, cattle must first be at least predominately solid black-hided and meet these criteria:

  1. PyramidModest or higher marbling
  2. Medium or fine marbling texture
  3. "A" maturity for each, lean and skeletal characteristics
  4. 10 to 16 square inch ribeye area
  5. 1,050 pound hot carcass weight or less
  6. Less than 1 inch fat thickness
  7. Superior muscling (restricts dairy influence)
  8. Practically free of capillary rupture
  9. No dark cutters
  10. No neck hump exceeding 2 inches

Supplying the Brand

Supply the Brand publication coverThe new, updated Supplying the Brand publication builds on the 2006 edition to explain how and why demand for quality beef is not a mere fad or cyclical tendency. It’s here to stay. Those who know the business know there is money to be made in supplying a quality beef product to hungry consumers, and this publication explains it all.

Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) gathered information from some of the nation's most respected animal scientists and industry experts to produce Supplying the Brand. The full-color special report discusses the challenges and opportunities in beef production, with in-depth features that focus on high-quality genetic selection, management and marketing practices.

View the report's PDF files by clicking on the cover photo, or get a free copy by mail. Producers can request a copy by contacting Marilyn Conley at 800-725-2333, ext. 298.

History, goals & mission statement

A bad steak inspired Angus producer Harold Etling, Marshallville, Ohio, because it was represented as being “Angus.” He conferred with Fred Johnson, of nearby Summitville, who was on the American Angus Association Board of Directors, about creating an Association-backed license for retailers and restaurants to market premium Angus beef.

Founding FathersThe Board considered the idea in October 1975, weighing claims that it would create much needed demand for Angus cattle. Nobody knew enough about the product side to say how or if it could work, but the Board appointed a committee to look into it. Most of them lived in the Eastern cornbelt, and met often to look for ways to make the dream come true.

In late 1976, Angus Regional Manager Louis “Mick” Colvin, West Salem, Ohio, attended one of those meetings and asked questions that cut to the heart of the issue: “ Can you identify Angus cattle in a high-speed packing plant and maintain identity to the consumer? Will the consumer pay more for the product?” The committee asked Colvin to find the answers, and those led to the birth of a brand.

Ranch FamilyThe CAB® program would debut in 1978 with Colvin as executive director seeking legal advice about visual type and licensing, and science-based brand specifications that would stand the test of time.

It would take a few more years for the strategy of building a broad base in the post-harvest segments to return significant market premiums to Angus producers.

From retail meat managers to restaurant wait staff, foodservice salesmen to packers, brand-directed training had become a successful hallmark of the program. But there was a rift between the growing acceptance at the trade level and producers who felt left out.

It was time for Phase II. That’s the name the Board used in approving the concept of CAB supply development in 1981, figuring it would follow from Phase I, brand development.

The Association had been building closer ties to the commercial industry, and when CAB® added a Supply Development Division in 1988, areas of cooperation appeared.

It would take many more years to build ownership among Angus producers, so that they could explain the market-driven program to their customers.

Predominant black hide was only the first door to the brand; focused Angus genetics were required to achieve significant CAB acceptance. Few commercial ranchers would care until premiums were widely available.

Collectively, CAB licensed packers were paying more than $35 million in annual grid premiums for the brand by 2012. That has added up to a cumulative $450 million since 1998 and is still growing.

Today, the mission statement of the brand remains true to the Angus cattlemen who founded it: Increase demand for registered Angus cattle through a specification-based, branded-beef program to identify consistent, high quality beef with superior taste.

Beef GradingBeef Carcass Grading Brochure

Most carcasses are graded, but very few qualify for the top of the USDA pyramid. Understanding beef grades is not only important to consumers’ purchase decisions, but also to the profit goals of producers. 

To help producers and consumers understand how beef qualifies for the brand’s stamp of approval, CAB created a brochure explaining the grading process.

The “Beef Carcass Grading Overview”  explains the grading process and answers cattlemen’s most frequently asked questions about quality and yield grades. It also details the four most common carcass defects—all of which prevent cattle from earning the CAB stamp—and what causes them. In addition to marbling and cutability details, the brochure presents a short history of the USDA grading system and how CAB fits into that.

Download the brochure or order free copies of the full-color brochures by calling 800-225-2333.