There are many factors that are playing a role in today’s record-high beef prices, including a smaller U.S. beef supply, an improving economy, and a higher-quality beef product that is available to the consumer. Despite the higher retail beef prices, consumers continue to demonstrate that they still love beef and are willing to pay more to get their favorite protein.
Of course, there’s always competition from cheaper protein choices like poultry and pork, but a return of spending to pre-recession levels is keeping beef demand on track.
A new study conducted by Bailey Harsh and Deb VanOverbeke of Oklahoma State University looks at retail and foodservice marketing trends for beef.
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You can read the entire study here, but I’ve rounded up seven take-home messages that show the latest in consumer trends and how loyal our customers are to beef.
From the study, here are seven things producers should know:
1. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of consumers say beef was their top choice of proteins in 2013.
2. The majority of consumers today don’t think beef is too expensive and believe the cost is reflective of beef’s superior flavor, juiciness, tenderness and versatility.
3. Beef quality is improving. Today, the beef industry has seen a 12 percentage-point increase in carcasses grading USDA Prime and Choice since 1995, and is up 5.7 percentage-points in 2014 compared to 2013.
4. Consumers have choices when it comes to quality beef. In 2013, there were 91 branded-beef programs on the retail market, with 43% of those having a USDA Prime or Choice specification.
5. Today, beef consumption is higher among millennials than any other age group. The millennials consists of 80 million consumers born between 1980-2000.
6. Today’s average U.S. household consumes an average of 3.8 home-cooked meals/week that include meat.
7. Thanks to consumers’ busy lifestyles, heat-and-eat meals have gained in popularity by 12% in the last four years.
The study also looked at trends such as consumer food choices based on social or environmental reasons; the demographic of consumers who are seeking organic, natural or grass-fed beef; and the desire of consumers to meet the ranchers who raise beef.
Overall, it appears beef is sitting in a strong position in the meat case, but we be diligent in educating consumers about cut selection, cooking preparation and nutrition. While beef is a consumer favorite, it can certainly be an intimidating choice, especially considering the higher price point. We can’t be complacent in promoting beef, and we must continue to work to connect with our consumers and keep beef at the center of the dinner plate.
What do you think about the findings of the study? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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