Factors Affecting Beef Demand

Glynn Tonsor, Ted Schroeder, and I recent completed a report for the Cattlemen's Beef Board on the factors influencing beef demand.  

One of the key factors that emerges from the analysis of the USDA price/quantity data is that beef demand appears to have become less sensitive to price-related factors.  In econ-lingo, beef demand has become more inelastic.  Moreover, changes in pork and poultry prices have fairly small impacts on beef demand.

As a result, we focused on several potential non-price demand determinants.  We find that emerging stories about climate change have adversely affected beef demand, but at the same time increased media focus on taste and flavor have more than compensated for those effects, pulling up demand since 2012.  

We also look at trends from the Food Demand Survey (FooDS) and how they relate to consumers' preferences and beliefs.  Here are some graphs on the relationship between a variety of factors and steak demand.

steak demand.JPG

Here is the same but for ground beef demand.


Increases in income clearly increase steak demand, but ground beef is demanded similarly by all income categories.  Some of the biggest determinants of beef demand are "food values".  Here's what we have to say about how to interpret those results.

While it may not be initially obvious, results in figure 4.5 [showing the relationship between steak demand and food values] can be interpreted as providing evidence about people’s beliefs about (or perceptions of) steak. Suppose an individual highly values taste. Figure 4.5 shows that such an individual will tend to choose more steak. As a result, it must be that steak is perceived to be highly tasty. By this line of reasoning, figure 4.5 suggests that consumers, on average, perceive steak to be convenient, tasty, attractive, and novel but they also perceive steak to be poor for animal welfare, nutrition, and environment while also being expensive.

There's a lot more in the report.