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Where is the beef going?

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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I thought this was very interesting. It said I could print or e-mail so I believe its ok to copy it to this forum. This is from a ND ag newspaper, The Farm & Ranch Guide. I hope the Checkoff can use some of these statistics to target their ads. BTW: Does the checkoff target any spanish programs or magizines etc.?

Where's the beef ...going?

By DALE HILDEBRANT, Farm & Ranch Guide
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 3:31 PM CDT

The consumption of beef in the United States averages 66 pounds per person a year, but figures recently released from the USDA Economic Research Service indicates beef consumption varies by region of the country, race, ethnicity and income level.

For many years beef was king as the nation's source of protein, however, around 1994 chicken nudged beef out of first place. Beef remains the most preferred of the red meats.

Economic Research Figures (ERS) figures from 2004 indicate the per capita consumption of fresh, chilled, frozen and processed beef stood at 66.1 pounds, with chicken at 84.3 and pork coming in third at 51.3 pounds.

With today's consumer, convenience often tops nutrition when it comes to food choices. Calories, fat and cholesterol also serve as determining factors in food selection. These issues and others, affect who eats beef and what cuts they prefer.

In the survey, beef was categorized into two main types - fresh, which included ground beef, steaks, stew beef, beef dishes and other cuts; and processed, which consisted of smoked sausage, corned beef, beef jerky, etc. Eighty-seven percent of the beef consumed was fresh and 13 percent processed. Ground beef held the largest market share with 42 percent for fresh meat cuts, followed by steaks, which accounted for 20 percent and then stew beef, beef dishes and other beef cuts, including hot dogs.

The study also looked at beef consumption in three different income brackets. Low-income bracket consumers ate 72 pounds of beef yearly, compared to 67.6 pounds for middle income and 62.6 pounds for high income. Ground beef was the dominant beef product eaten per capita, regardless of income level, followed by steaks.

High-income households were big consumers of steaks at 41 pounds annually, while the medium income group consumed 48 pounds of stew meat per capita.

Consumption data was also studied on race and ethnicity differences. The four races used in the study included non-Hispanic whites (73 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (13 percent), Hispanics (11 percent) and other races including Asians (four percent).

On average, non-Hispanic whites and people in the other race category ate less beef than other consumers. Non-Hispanic blacks ate 77 pounds of beef per capita, with ground beef being the highest consumed product, followed by steaks, processed beef and stew beef.

Hispanics ate 68.5 pounds per capita, with ground beef ranking at the top, followed by steak, stew beef and processed beef. Non-Hispanic whites per capita consumption was 64.5 pounds with ground beef, steaks and stew beef the highest consumed products. Other races consumed 62.2 pounds per person annually, with ground beef again at the top of the product list, followed by steak and stew beef.

Nearly 65 percent of the beef was purchased in retail stores and therefore was considered to be an at-home food. Of the six beef product groupings, ground beef had the highest at-home consumption followed by steaks and stew beef. Ground beef eaten at restaurants, including fast-food places, accounted for 60 percent, or 14 pounds of the beef eaten away from home. This was eaten in the form of hamburgers, spaghetti meat sauce and meat pizzas, just to name a few.

The United States was broken into four regions - Northeast (20 percent of the total U.S. population), Midwest (24 percent), South (35 percent) and West (22 percent). Consumers in the Midwest ate more beef per capita, 73 pounds, than consumers in any other region. The South ate 65.2 pounds per capita, the West 65.1 pounds per capita, followed by the Northeast with 62.5 pounds. Again, ground beef was the dominant product eaten in all regions.

The report also indicated that rural consumers eat more beef. According to the Census, over 47 percent of Americans live in suburban areas, 32 percent in cities and 21 percent in rural areas. Those in rural areas ate 75 pounds of beef per capita, compared to 66 pounds per person in the urban area and 63 pounds in suburban locations. Rural residents consumed 33 pounds of ground beef, followed by 12 pounds of stew beef and 11 pounds of steaks.

Finally, the survey looked at consumption rates for various age groups for male and female. Males in the 20 to 39 years old category ate 110 pounds of beef a year and males over all age groups consumed 85.7 pounds per year. Females overall consumed 48.1 pounds of beef per year, with the highest consumption of 56 pounds per year in the 12 to19 age bracket.

The survey concludes by saying beef does and will continue to play an essential role in American diets, although it will probably remain in second place to poultry. Trends in beef consumption will continue to vary as such things as prices of other meats, health concerns and changes in composition of products offered change. As the U.S. population ages, per capita beef consumption is expected to decline over the next two decades.

Also, the National Restaurant Association expects away-from-home food expenditures to exceed at-home food expenditures by 2010, which should mean per capita beef consumption away from home should increase. In the long run, changes in total per capita beef consumption will depend on population growth, tastes and preferences and a variety of other factors.

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