10 months ago by Scott Hardy
Mary Soukup, Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork 05/19/2014
With the official start to grilling season less than a week away, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that more retail outlets are offering special rates to consumers who, according to the latest Food Demand Survey from Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, indicated they were not willing to dig as deep into their wallets as they were in previous months.
The monthly survey of approximately 1,000 individuals collects data on consumer’s willingness-to-pay for a variety of food items. This month’s survey shows a decreased willingness-to-pay for all products, with steak, chicken breasts and chicken wings experiencing the largest decreases. For beef specifically, in May 2014, consumers indicated a willingness-to-pay $6.35 per pound for steak, compared to $6.87 in April, a decrease of 7.58 percent. For hamburger, consumers said they were willing to spend $4.17 in April but just $4.07 in May, a 2.4 percent decrease.
According to the USDA Weekly Retail Beef Feature Activity report for the week of May 16-22, 2014, there is a 2.2 decrease in the number of retail outlets featuring beef but a 4.5 percent increase in special rates. Additionally, USDA reports the overall activity index increased 1.5 percent compared to the previous week. The agency says grilling cuts continue to stand strong in retail feature activity, with Chuck, Round, Loin and Ground beef items receiving more ad space this week leading up to Memorial Day while the Rib and Brisket saw less ad space.
“Beef drives traffic to stores and the meat case during the grilling season,” said Mike Miller, senior vice president of global marketing and research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Americans say they’re twice as likely to visit a grocery store that’s promoting beef for grilling, over a store that promotes any other protein. Nothing delivers a satisfying meal quite like a sizzling steak or a burger, particularly as Memorial Day and summertime approaches.”
Ground beef 70-79 percent lean was featured in 1,240 retail outlets with an average price of $2.73 per pound; 80-89 percent lean Ground beef was featured in 4,410 stores nationwide with an average price of $3.50 per pound; and 90 percent or higher leaner product was featured in 2,130 stores with an average price of $4.70, according to USDA. At this time last year, average prices for Ground beef were $2.63 for 70-79 percent lean, $3.30 for 80-89 percent lean, and $4.39 for 90 percent lean or higher.
“Demand for beef is strong and continues to grow, even in a time of higher prices,” said Miller. “Like all proteins, the price of beef has gone up, but if you compare them to the same time a year ago, the average price of beef has increased $0.25 per pound, which amounts to just about six cents more per serving.”
The OSU survey reports that consumers were most concerned with E. coli, Salmonella and hormones during May but greenhouse gases and GMOs experienced the greatest percentage increase from the previous month. Taste, safety and price continue to be consumers’ top values related to their food purchasing decisions. In May, 3.35 percent of participants reported having food poisoning, a 5.9 percent decrease from April.
According to the survey, grocery expenditures this month were $96.34 per week, up 5.08 percent from April. The survey also showed that $50.15 is spent on food away from up, up more than 10 percent from April. Consumers said they anticipate spending less on food in coming months but also expect to see higher meat prices compared to last year and last month.