Beef is not what’s for dinner anymore. At least not as much as it used to be.
Vegetarian trends, healthier lifestyles, and less-disposable income among Americans are the primary causes of the decline in meat consumption, according to ranchers and packers.
The industry is fighting back by devising ways of cutting prices.
“We have been successful in maintaining sales and item movement by producing smaller and thinner packages of our more expensive beef items,” said Karen May, of Supervalu, a U.S.-based retail-grocery chain.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts Americans will eat 54.1 pounds of beef per capita in 2012. That compares with 57.4 pounds per capita in 2011.
As a result, Tyson Foods, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef have started slicing up less-expensive cuts of meat that still satisfy steak-lovers. Chris Calkins, of the University of Nebraska, said the cheaper chunks are popular during tough economic times.
Because meat-eaters’ desires for higher-end tenderloins and ribeyes remain, retailers began selling smaller portions at more appealing prices, said Trevor Amen, of the National Cattleman's Beef Association.
Erin Borror, of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said another effective tactic is to market more less expensive ground beef.