More and more high-grade beef is making its way to dinner plates due to genetic testing and statistical analysis, Bloomberg reports. It adds that 82 percent of cattle in the US are USDA prime or choice — the highest grades — whereas five years ago, only 70 percent were.
"It's like Moneyball for cattle," Mark McCully, vice president of production for Certified Angus Beef, tells Bloomberg. "Back in the day, the eye of the stockman was all we had, and now we have high-powered analytical tools and can make progress so much faster."
According to Bloomberg, this began in the 1970s and 1980s as the industry began using statistical models to analyze the data it had been collecting to determine the likelihood that a parent would transmit desired traits to offspring. Then, by 2010, the industry began to fold in microarray-based genetic analysis, it says. This in conjunction with ranchers being able to command higher prices for top meat, Bloomberg adds, has lead to more marbled beef on the market and to it being offered not only at steakhouses, but also at grocery stores.