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Consumer demand for high-quality beef strong and growing

Data show consumer demand for beef at retail up 15% in past five years.

The tagline “Beef. It's What's For Dinner” rang true in 2018 as beef prices remained strong and consumers regularly visited the meat case. According to the latest retail sales data from IRI/Freshlook, beef demand is up 15% since 2012.

The beef checkoff said strong consumer beef demand is expected to continue into 2019, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicting that U.S. consumers will eat 8.9% more beef this year than in 2015. Much of the demand has been driven by ground beef and loin cuts, which are particularly popular with consumers at the grocery store.

The checkoff noted that consumers are not only eating more beef, but they are also enjoying more high-quality beef 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 and supply chain outreach for the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., 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."

According to the beef checkoff, beef demand isn't just strong at retail. Ninety-seven percent of foodservice establishments report having beef on the menu, which has been shown to increase restaurant traffic by 45%.

“From restaurants to retail, consumers clearly want beef on their plates,” the checkoff noted. “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.”

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