Demand for beef: The good and the bad

Domestic consumers seem to be reacting to higher prices and to concerns about the health impacts of beef consumption; resulting in more consumption of plant-based products and other meats.

Demand for beef: The good and the bad

Retail sales of fresh beef in 2013 were $53.1 billion, a 9 percent increase since 2008. However, this increase was primarily due to rising prices; prices adjusted for inflation show a stagnant market for fresh beef. This is in spite of a 250 percent increase in the export of beef products. Domestic consumers seem to be reacting to higher prices and to concerns about the health impacts of beef consumption; resulting in more consumption of plant-based products and other meats (e.g. pork and poultry).

However, young consumers (18-24 years old) are increasing their consumption of beef, particularly premium cuts that are locally-produced and natural (organic or grass fed). This presents a marketing opportunity to remind these consumers that beef can be part of a balanced diet.

Another factor in future demand for beef is the decreasing household sizes in the US which are increasingly asking for smaller packages that can be resealed. Making changes to packaging may make red meat more accessible to a variety of demographic groups including singles, large households catering to a variety of diets and older consumers who tend to eat less food at any given seating.

In conclusion, concern about the health benefits of beef products, the environmental impacts of production and price increases will dampen opportunities to increase sales. However, Michigan State University Extension says that greater consumer information, changes in packaging, more targeted marketing, and increased partially prepared products may counter-balance those consumer tendencies.

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