First quarter data showed a strong consumer demand for U.S. beef and that demand is expected to increase as Memorial Day kicks off the seasonal “grilling season.”

"Preliminary data from first quarter 2001 indicates beef demand may be up roughly 2 percent when compared to first quarter 2000," said Chuck
Schroeder, CEO of NCBA. "The positive demand trend reinforces consumers' love for beef and the industry's ability to deliver quality products that meet their needs."

Memorial Day is the single largest beef day of the year, according to NCBA.

"We expect American consumers will purchase 60 million pounds of beef for their Memorial Day celebrations, which is about 25 percent greater than average daily purchases for beef," said Chuck Lambert, chief economist for NCBA. "Hamburgers and steaks continue to be top choices for the grill, and their popularity will drive increased beef sales and consumption this Memorial Day and throughout the grilling season."

Lambert expects to see similar gains for Fourth of July and Labor Day, which typically tie for the second most popular beef days of the year.