No, the beef industry is not mimicking their dairy friends with a new advertising slogan. But recent reports indicate U.S. consumers want beef on their dinner plates, and they’re demonstrating that desire with their wallets.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook included production estimates through January and projections for future trends. With regard to ground beef, the report states that beef imports to the U.S. were up 31 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, and that demand for imported processing beef rapidly rose in 2014 due to limited domestic supplies coupled with a stronger U.S. dollar and relatively cheaper prices for imported beef products. Beef imports totaled 2.947 billion pounds in 2014 and are projected to be 2.810 billion pounds this year.
According to USDA, 2014’s all-fresh beef retail value was $6 per pound, up nearly 96 cents from last year.
Increased imports aren’t the only proof of strong demand for beef products. According to the latest Food Demand Survey from Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, consumers were willing to pay nearly 10 percent more for ground beef in February compared to January. Consumers responding to the survey said they were willing to pay $4.54 per pound for hamburger, up from $4.14 in January and $4.04 in February 2014.
The other bright spot in the survey was steak, which posted an 8.79 percent increase in February compared to January. Consumers said they were willing to pay $7.92 per pound for steak this month, up from $7.28 in January and $6.87 per pound last year at this time.
The monthly survey of approximately 1,000 individuals collects data on consumers’ willingness-to-pay for a variety of food items, notably a variety of popular meat items. While the latest survey shows an increase in consumers’ willingness-to-pay for steak, hamburger and deli ham (up 15 percent to $2.78 per pound), chicken breasts, pork chops and chicken wings were all down between 1 and 13 percent.
Finally, the latest USDA national retail report for beef, from February 13 through February 19, showed a 2.3 percent increase in the number of retail outlets featuring beef. Specifically, Rib, Loin and Ground beef saw more ad space this week while Chuck, Round and Brisket saw less space.