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Is Chicken Really More Popular Than Beef?

In 2013, chicken outsold beef in the U.S. I’ve always been proud of the fact that America’s favorite protein was beef, and I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to read that chicken had officially overtaken beef as the most popular meat product consumed in the U.S.

According to an article in the Daily Mail Reporter, “While the per-capita consumption of beef has dropped from a peak of 90 lbs./capita in the 1970s to 50 lbs. in 2012, chicken consumption has gone the other way, rising from under 20 lbs. in 1960 to about 55 lbs. in 2012. Americans now eat less beef then they did in 1955, but is the change a result of a healthier diet or because people are choosing the cheaper option?”


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The article cites both health and affordability as reasons why chicken is outselling beef.

There’s no getting around the price edge that chicken has over beef. Kevin Good, senior analyst for CattleFax, told me in a recent conversation, “Retail beef prices have gone up about 5% in the last couple of years.” He also predicts that beef prices will continue to increase at a 4-5% clip. That presents a tough challenge for beef producers, as more folks are budget-conscious when they go to the grocery store.

It will be our challenge to sell those more affordable beef options like ground beef to our consumers, and show them the versatility and tastefulness of cuts from the chuck vs. a ribeye. The “cook once, dine twice” concept can also help budget-conscious Americans get the most out of their beef. They can cook one roast on a Sunday afternoon and make several meals out of it throughout the week. For example: a hot pot roast one day, sliced thin on a sandwich or pizza the next day, and tossed on a salad as a third option to take to work for lunch.

On the health side, there are 29 cuts of beef that meat dietary guidelines for lean, and many of them rank equally with a skinless chicken breast. In addition, half of the fat found in beef is mono-unsaturated, the same heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Yet, beef has gotten a bad reputation over the years for being artery-clogging and a celebratory treat only, not something to eat on a regular basis.

As beef producers, we need to promote the healthfulness of our product as much as we can. Not only does a lean cut like a sirloin taste better than a plain chicken breast, but it’s good for you, too!

I plan to continue to do my part in boosting beef demand by keeping it at the center of my dinner table, but more than that, I plan to put extra effort in 2014 to promoting the healthfulness and affordability of beef at the dinner table. I’ll do this by talking to friends and acquaintances about beef’s great health and nutrition profile, as well as blogging and using other social media. I invite you all to do the same.

How do you think beef can regain its edge on America’s dinner table? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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