If you’re like me, you grill year-round, but for the rest of America, grilling season will soon be upon us. Can’t you just smell the ribeyes sizzling? Unfortunately, with beef prices so high, grilling season might look a lot different this year for Americans watching their food budget.
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Bon Appetit magazine recently published an article entitled, “This Is Why You’ll Be Eating A Ton Of Chicken This Year.” The article warns consumers that drought might be raising the price of lettuce and oranges; while porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in pigs is bumping up the price of pork. Plus, items like limes and coffee might cost a little extra this year as well.
Of course, the first item on the expensive food list is beef. Here is what the article had to say about beef:
“At $5.28/lb., the retail price of beef hit a record high this February—in large part thanks to side effects caused by ongoing droughts and extreme weather across the U.S. As of January, the number of American cattle herds were at their smallest since the 1950s, and the long, cold winter — and subsequent frozen grazing conditions — made it tough for some cows to put on weight. So when can we expect the prices to drop again? Probably not this year. According to the USDA, beef prices are projected to rise 2.5%-3.5% over the course of 2014.”
Thus, budget-conscious Americans might have fewer choices when it comes to their protein decisions this summer. However, it’s our task to show our consumers that the extra money is well spent. Here are five reasons why I think consumers should choose beef over chicken this grilling season:
A little salt and pepper is all it takes to make beef taste amazing. Chicken, on the other hand, needs seasoning and sauce. As Troy Marshall aptly puts it, “Chicken is just a carrier for the special sauce.”
Most folks see chicken as the ultimate in versatility. After all, you can make it taste like whatever you want, depending on the enhancements you use. However, with breasts, drumsticks and wings as your three main choices, that can get boring quite quickly. Beef has endless possibilities with many cuts and cooking methods to switch things up. And these choices come at many different price points; so, with a little creativity, consumers can get the best bang for their buck with beef. Check out these "grill once, dine twice" recipe ideas from the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.
3. Wow Factor
Nobody celebrates a major milestone or special event with chicken. Actually, maybe they do, but I certainly don’t know them. Steak is the protein of choice for romance, celebrations, anniversaries, date nights and grill-outs. When you want to please that special someone or entertain a large crowd, beef brings the “wow” factor.
Despite today’s high prices, many consumers have deep-seated traditions with beef. For instance, our family makes beef chili and stew in the crockpot every time we work cattle. Roast beef sandwiches are our favorite way to serve a big crowd. Steaks thrown on the grill are the best way to end a long working day. And there’s nothing easier or more affordable than grilling a burger patty or two when you’re short for time and need something quick and tasty to eat. Beef has been a go-to protein for Americans for so long, I don’t see them ditching it now just because of price.
Here are the facts: Beef is a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with zinc, iron and protein, as well as healthy fats and many cuts that can be a part of a healthy diet, beef is a super food!
Our task is clear, but our challenge is great: Despite this grilling season’s rising price tag for beef, we need to get to work to promote our product and keep it at the center of the grill and the center of the plate this spring and summer. These five talking points might be a great way to help us accomplish this task as we move into summer grilling season. Share this blog post on your social media sites to help get the conversation started!
The opinions of Amanda Radke do not necessarily reflect those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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