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rank beef as the top protein that is good for social gatherings and special occassions1
consider if the meal is a good value for the money when choosing a meal with protein when dining at home1
report a positive eating experience when enjoying beef at home or at a restaurant1
As Figure 1 shows, retail beef inflation rates have been on the rise through most of 2023 and increased by 7.0% from September 2022 to September 2023.3 Part of the reason why beef prices continue to be elevated may be explained by simple supply and demand. Beef has been experiencing decreasing supplies over the past year or so, but demand has remained steady.4 When lower supplies are combined with steady demand, prices tend to increase.4 However, the rising price of beef relative to other substitute proteins (chicken and pork) may draw some consumer dollars away from beef in the future.
Inflation rates for beef, chicken, and pork (percent change vs. one year ago)
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, Not Seasonally Adjusted, October 2023 Release
As Figure 2 shows, beef has still been performing well from a retail sales perspective, with $8.4 billion of fresh beef products sold in the 3rd quarter of 2023 – the second-highest quarterly dollar sales figure since the second quarter of 2022.5 Although the volume sold has declined over the past few quarters, higher prices per pound of beef help maintain the overall sales value.5 It is also worth noting that in the final quarters of 2022 and 2021, beef dollar sales increased even though similar economic headwinds existed.2,3,5 This suggests some resiliency in consumers' demand for beef, even in the face of economic challenges. However, increasing credit card debts and depleted savings accounts could counteract resilient consumer spending habits and even seasonal bumps in demand. If current consumer demand for beef remains steady, history may repeat itself with increased beef sales through the holiday season - but only time will tell.
Beef Retail Sales from Q4-2020 to Q3-2023
SOURCE: NielsenIQ, Discover, Retail Beef Sales, 2020 – 2023.
Understanding consumer’s perspectives and considerations can help promote beef consumption. The next section of this article provides consumer insights and recommendations for encouraging consumers to choose beef when deciding what to prepare for social gatherings at home this holiday season.
This suggests an opportunity to meet consumers where they will be eating – at home. Survey data indicate that consumers have a satisfying experience eating beef (91%) and they are open to ideas for new ways to utilize beef when cooking at home.1 Additionally, value for the money is a key consideration, with 83% considering this when choosing a meal with protein to eat at home.1
In addition to being open to new ways to utilize beef and being budget-conscious, consumer survey data show that 60% of younger individuals (18-44 years old) are already utilizing recipes at least weekly.8 Although printed or written recipes from family and friends are the most popular source across all generations, these tech-savvy consumers are more likely to utilize online sources like Google or various social media sites for recipe inspiration than their older counterparts.8 This presents an opportunity to reach young and middle-aged consumers within their normal routines and ensure beef is a key part of holiday meals.
To encourage consumers to choose beef this holiday season, consider three key focuses: