According to USDA, 2011 U.S. per-capita beef consumption was at 57.4 lbs./person, down 13% from 2001 and 25% from 1980. By 2012, it’s estimated that Americans will be eating an average of 54.1 lbs. of beef annually.
Even though export markets continue to boom, our domestic customers are struggling to afford beef due to tighter cattle numbers, a weak economy and high unemployment. With rising food and fuel costs, Americans are now trading down from steak to burgers, in what Erin Borror, U.S. Meat Export Federation economist, calls “The Hamburger Economy.”
While it’s important to expand U.S. beef exports, we must continue to promote beef here in the U.S. To me, this means alleviating the guilt consumers feel about our product and reassuring them that beef is a good choice for a multitude of reasons: ethics, environment, safety, nutrition and taste. And, they can enjoy beef while staying on budget.
I work to stay abreast of consumer trends by perusing consumer magazines and blogs, and following the mainstream media. I learned this weekend that beef is all the rage in Hollywood. Given America’s obsession with the entertainment industry’s young starlets, my hope is that their food preferences will trickle down to everyday Americans.
For example, in Women’s Health (WH), actress Elizabeth Banks, who plays Effie Trinket in the upcoming movie, “The Hunger Games,” talks fitness, wellness and food.
“As for food, Banks admits to a few vices, including cupcakes, cheese, pesto, bread and cookie dough. But she usually sticks to whole, unprocessed foods. This isn’t a far stretch for her, since eating well is in her upbringing. Her family was raised on healthy fare,” writes Carrie Doyle for WH. ‘We were a very meat-and-potatoes, old-school Irish Catholic family, surrounded by farmland, so we ate a lot of fresh food,’ Banks explains.
“She grew up with a garden in her backyard, but the carnivorous actress loves meat -- and she believes this trait makes her popular with men. ‘I can hang with the dudes because I love beef and baseball and driving fast and flirting.”
Looking through old magazines, it appears timeless beauty Marilyn Monroe loved beef, as well.
According to a recent article that appeared on Examiner.com, “When Marilyn was struggling for money during her modeling years in the 1940s, she often survived on as little as $1/day (1940s money, of course) by eating things like raw hamburger, peanut butter, hot dogs, chili, crackers, oatmeal, orange juice, etc.
“During her youth, Marilyn showed athletic ability. She ran, swam, and played softball. When watching her famous figure, Marilyn ate a diet that is similar to our modern high-protein/low-carb diets today. She ate a lot of steak (sometimes for breakfast), eggs, liver juice, grapefruit, and some greens. When she needed to lose some temporary weight fast, she got a colonic. She supplemented her healthy eating habits by stretching, jogging and lifting small weights. In this respect, she was very much ahead of her time. A typical breakfast might consist of egg whites poached in safflower oil, toast, hard-boiled eggs or a grapefruit. A typical lunch might be a broiled steak.”
Finally, it’s award season in Hollywood, and one of the highlights is always the Golden Globes.
Curious to know what Brad and Angelina dined on at the event? Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger, reports that the menu, which included everything from ravioli appetizers to chocolate and caramelized berries for dessert, included beef as the main entree.
The stars dined on, “Braised prime short rib of beef, served with porcini pine nut herb ragout in a light cream of sherry wine ginger tamari sauce and roasted fingerling potatoes, candy striped beets, baby bok choy and yellow baby carrots.”
Despite being in a Hamburger Economy, today’s 1% is enjoying beef in style. Here’s hoping their taste preferences, inspired recipes and candid love of beef, catches on. Perhaps it can be a factor in raising per-capita beef consumption domestically.
How can we boost beef demand here in the U.S.? I believe one way is through social media. Have you considered posting a favorite recipe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube? Nobody cooks a steak better than a rancher, so get online and share your best!