A lot of steaks and hamburgers will get grilled on the July 4th holiday, but what is the future of consumer demand for beef the rest of the year? Two Kansas researchers, Dr. Ted Schroeder and Dr. Glynn Tonsor, have published a study that looks at what determines consumer demand for beef. Dr. Schroeder says their study identified 7 factors that impact beef demand, “1) Beef Price, 2) Food Safety, 3) Product Quality, 4) Health, 5) Nutrition, 6) Social Aspects, and 7) Sustainability.” Of those 7, three are were determined to be the most important. Dr. Tonsor said 2 of the top three can be influenced by the beef industry, “Food safety and product quality are two major factors that the beef industry can have an influence on and, thus, influence beef demand.”
As for price, it is a major factor in beef demand, but one over which the beef industry has little control. Dr. Schroeder says the industry needs to find ways to influence the price of beef, “Beef price matters to consumers. This means continued investment in production, processing, and merchandising efficiency is essential. However, efficiency gains must be scrutinized relative to how they might impact consumer perceptions regarding product quality and food safety.”
Their conclusion is that the Beef Checkoff needs to invest in programs that can influence food safety, quality, and price as a way of building beef demand for the future. The study also suggests that Beef Checkoff investments be focused on impacting the social items that influence demand. Industry investments focused on beef food safety and consumer perceptions about beef safety are paramount. Food safety is the most important demand driver and an attribute that industry experts believe the industry can positively influence. The study revealed that Beef product quality is among the highest priorities for the beef industry to address. Consumers desire consistent high quality products with excellent flavor, color, tenderness, juiciness, and freshness. Product development focused on improving quality will help improve demand. Industry experts believe the industry is well positioned to improve beef quality.
The study also looked at future demand for beef. It suggested that, going forward, the industry needs to look at new ways of positioning beef. Young shoppers’ interests in specific health and nutritional aspects of beef present valuable opportunities to expand demand as the purchasing power of these consumers increases in coming years. Positioning and promoting healthfulness and nutritional benefits of beef is recommended. The authors recommended all aspects of the beef industry carefully consider the implications of this report, “Consumer demand for beef is one of the most important issues directly affecting all segments of cattle and beef production, processing, and merchandising. Understanding key consumer demand drivers is important because of the substantial economic impact they have on the industry.”