Although price remains the first concern of beef-eating consumers, healthfulness and convenience continue changing consumer behavior, too.
The latest research from the Beef Board and elsewhere confirms this, in addition to adding several interesting twists to the national consumer profile.
Overall, beef continues to suffer small price-related losses in addition to shifts in the type of beef products purchased. There also appears to be some shifting from home consumption back toward restaurant consumption of beef.
"There's price hesitancy but it's not taking people out of the market," says John Lundeen, executive director of market research for NCBA.
Most of this trend seems to be a trading down toward the quality and value offered by ground beef.
These trends were demonstrated in Beef Checkoff-funded surveys completed earlier this year. In one national study, consumers were asked to rank their attitudes about beef products and pricing on a five-point scale. Lundeen explains the rankings:
1. So inexpensive that you actually doubt its quality.
2. Inexpensive and worth it.
3. Just about right.
4. Expensive and worth it.
5. Too expensive and definitely not worth it.
Lundeen says this is one way of addressing consumers' sensitivities to price. The study asked about beef consumed in the home and in restaurants as separate categories.