Strong consumer beef demand is expected to continue into 2019, with the USDA predicting consumers in the United States will eat 8.9 percent more beef this year than in 2015.
According to the latest retail sales data from IRI/Freshlook, beef demand is up 15 percent since 2012.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says that ground beef and loin cuts, which are particularly popular with consumers at the grocery store, are driving demand and that consumers are eating more high-quality beef.
Not only are consumers eating more beef, they are also enjoying more high-quality beef. This is due to more cattle in the U.S. herd grading higher than ever before.
“Cattle farmers and ranchers, and the entire beef industry, have worked particularly hard during the past 10 years to produce higher-quality beef, and that work is clearly paying off with increased consumer demand,” said Bridget Wasser, Executive Director of Meat Science & Supply Chain Outreach for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.
“We’re seeing demand for USDA Choice and Prime beef grow, signaling consumer desire for a higher-quality product. An increase in the size of the U.S. cattle herd paired with a higher-quality beef supply shows the industry is responding,” added Wasser in a press release.
While larger supplies will remain the biggest headwind to stronger prices in 2019, strong domestic and international demand for U.S. beef is continuing to provide price support, according to Josh Maples, Department of Agricultural Economics professor from Mississippi State University, in an article published by the livestock publication Drovers.
A strong domestic economy is supporting beef demand despite the larger supplies of beef and also larger supplies of other proteins chicken and pork. Domestic beef consumption per person in 2018 was about 57 pounds and is forecasted to grow slightly in 2019, said Maples.
Internationally, robust exports have supported the demand profile for beef and, therefore, cattle. Beef exports have risen by over 20 percent over the past 2 years which has helped absorb some of the beef production increases, explained Drovers article.
Beef demand isn’t only strong at retail. 97% of foodservice establishments report having beef on the menu, which has been shown to increase restaurant traffic by 45 percent. From restaurants to retail, consumers clearly want beef on their plates.
With beef supply on the upswing and consumer demand increasing, the beef industry is gaining momentum, and this trend looks to show no signs of slowing down in 2019.