Rick Husted | april 28, 2020


Though there are a variety of potential threats to the industry, consumers are still eating a lot of beef. Since 2015, beef consumption has increased over 3 pounds per capita annually, to a projected total of almost 58 pounds by the end of 2019.1 Such growth in consumption exhibits just how much consumers choose beef as a top protein. As further evidence, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, regularly gathers a variety of consumer data when it comes to their perceptions and consumption of beef.  

For example, the Consumer Beef Tracker gathers consumer’s protein considerations when dining out and eating at home. What we find is that taste, experience, and budget related aspects are considered the most both at home and dining out, whereas more production and nutrition related ideas are considered more at home. Consumer’s also assesses beef’s performance on these considerations. Results show that, on average, 80% of consumers agree beef tastes great, is a very pleasurable eating experience, and fits their budget.2 

With beef’s performance on key consideration factors, it’s no wonder consumption is increasing. However, there are a variety of proteins available today, and as a result, additional research is conducted to understand how beef ranks among these options in terms of being one of the best sources of protein. Unsurprisingly, for the third consecutive year since 2017, beef is ranked in the top three—while protein alternatives like plant-based substitutes and insect proteins rank much lower.3

The checkoff-funded Consumer Beef Tracker can also trend these metrics over time. Specific to overall perceptions, data shows consumers remain unwavering in their positive sentiment towards beef. In fact, over 60% of consumers feel consistently positive towards beef, and fewer than 15%, on average, feel negative towards beef. 

Aside from current perceptions and beef consumption, the Consumer Beef Tracker also considers consumer’s future intentions. While many consumers plan to continue enjoying the same amount of beef they always have, 11% plan to eat even more.2 Those consumers who plan to eat more, largely do so as a result of beef’s great taste and the fact that beef is their #1 protein choice. 

Insights like these inform checkoff funded programs about current consumers, making it easier to identify and act on opportunities specific to beef. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, will continue to track and monitor consumer perceptions and consumption to improve beef perceptions and keep beef as one of the best protein options available.

  1. USDA, WASDE, September 2019
  2. 2019 Consumer Beef Tracker
  3. 2017-19 Protein Toluna Quick Survey