Are Americans Eating Less Beef Because Of High Beef Prices?

**Updated: May 20, 2015**

Myth: The price of beef has made people eat less beef.

The Facts: Consumers are seeing higher food prices when shopping and dining out, but despite the increased cost of beef, all of the beef being produced in the U.S. is being purchased. Consumers are buying the entire inventory of delicious steaks, roasts and ground beef, even at higher prices.

This shows us that beef demand is high. What do we mean by that? Demand refers to consumer preference and desirability for a good, in this case beef. Demand is calculated by economists using a demand index which takes into account a consumers’ willingness to purchase a product based on its price and their income. In beef’s case, prices have gone up, while consumer incomes haven’t. Yet, consumers continue to purchase beef despite its higher price, which is an indicator of strong demand for beef. This is counterintuitive to what you typically see in demand. Consumers are usually willing to purchase less of a good as the price increases and more as price decreases.

To put it simply, demand is desire, and consumer desire for beef is high. In fact, demand has remained strong throughout the latest recession and one of the tightest beef supplies in history, increasing around seven percent in the past year.

Consumers are continuing to eat beef – 91 percent of consumers eat beef monthly and 35 percent eat beef three or more times a week – and the majority (84 percent) plan to consume even more beef, because they love the taste.  Almost 20 percent of consumers say they are eating more beef compared to a year ago. Two thirds say they’re eating about the same.[1]

Americans love beef, and sales show they believe it’s a high quality protein that’s worth it. In fact, a recent survey showed consumers were willing to pay $8.02 per pound for a steak, and only $5.59 for a chicken breast and $3.97 for a pork chop.[2]

Grilling season presents consumers the opportunity to cash in on their cravings. Almost half of consumers (46.3 percent) are looking forward to grilling beef this summer – more than double the desire to grill any other (including less expensive) protein options.[3]

For more information on demand, visit these resources:

Citations:
[1] Consumer Beef Index, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, March 2015
[2] Oklahoma State University’s Food Demand Survey, April 2015
[3] Consumer Google Survey, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, May 9-11, 2015

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