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Angus Productions Inc.
Copyright © 2009
Angus Productions Inc.

Demographic Drivers in the Beef Industry

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan. 28, 2009) — How are consumers influenced in their decision to buy beef? That was the question addressed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA’s) John Lundeen and Certified Angus Beef LLC’s (CAB’s) Tracy Erickson during a Cattlemen’s College session on the topic of defining beef consumers and meeting their emerging expectations. The Cattlemen’s College sessions were Wednesday, Jan. 28, at the 2009 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lundeen reported that the economic downturn of the past several months has changed how domestic consumers purchase food.

In a survey conducted in September 2008, 24% of consumers said they are trading cuts, meaning they are switching from buying beef to a lower price product like poultry or pork. More loyal beef consumers (29%) said they are switching to a lower-price beef product — for instance, buying ground beef instead of steak. But 47% of those surveyed said they are not changing their beef buying purchases, which is good news for the beef industry.

Erickson reported on how the economic slowdown has affected beef sales at the restaurant level, and said all restaurant sales for beef were down. She pointed out that retail sales, however, especially for middle meats, saw an increase this fall.

“This tells us that consumers still want a high-quality eating experience, but are doing it at retail with steak purchases that they can make at home,” she explained.

Lundeen said aside from price, nutrition is an important topic to consumers, and is something the beef industry must focus on more in selling their product in the future. Erickson echoed that comment, saying that restaurants and retailers are asking for more information on beef’s nutrition so they can provide that to their consumers.

Last but not least, Erickson emphasized that positioning beef as king is critical. “We need to maintain beef’s position as a luxury,” she said. “Taste is the great story about beef; it’s the number one reason consumers purchase beef.”

She concluded, “Consumers love their beef. That’s the meal they tell their friends about the next day, and we need to remind restaurants of that so they keep beef on the menu, because that is what will bring in more customers for their business.”

Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or distributed without the express permission of Angus Productions Inc. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at (816) 383-5270.