Beef Checkoff Works to Keep Beef on the Menu Amid Inflation

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Jennifer Nealson about Beef Checkoff efforts.

At the 2024 CattleCon held in Orlando, Florida, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays had the chance to talk with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Research, Jennifer Nealson. Nealson is the lead when it comes to marketing efforts for the Beef Checkoff.

Our coverage from the 2024 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Orlando is being powered by Farm Data Services of Stillwater.

Nealson says one thing the Checkoff is very mindful of is the retail price of beef and how that impacts consumers.

“Everybody knows that consumer prices for beef are up, and the consumer price index just came out for November-November,” Nealson said. “Food inflation rose three percent. Within that, there is only a 1.7 percent increase in retail for beef, so the good news, I guess, is that it is indexing lower than the average at three percent. Dining is up three percent. There are inflationary pressures out there.”

Nealson said another thing that is softening the market is the willingness of the consumer to pay higher prices- specifically for steak. People’s willingness to pay is about nine dollars per pound for steak, she added.

“The price right now, on average from across the country, is ten dollars,” Nealson said. “There is a one-dollar difference there, so we are seeing a decline in the volume sold of beef, generally speaking.”

Because of this decline in the volume of beef sold, Nealson said a big priority of the Checkoff is looking at ways to inspire the purchase of beef. A key strategy, Nealson added, is to show consumers how they can stretch their beef-buying dollars.

Nealson said part of that strategy includes showing consumers ways they can swap out cuts and use a less expensive cut for the same recipe they are accustomed to.

“Looking at value cuts, particularly ground beef, the U.S. consumer loves ground beef, so the more we can share with them (including) recipes and ways to use ground beef, we think that will continue to keep the sales flat if not even increase in some of the areas of cuts,” Nealson said.

Nealson said several different programs have been rolled out by the Beef Checkoff to help in the effort to keep consumers choosing beef. One of those programs is “Tips and Tricks” videos, which are videos featuring influencer chefs talking about how to select a cut at the beef counter and prepare it.

“Sometimes when prices are a little higher, and people’s confidence isn’t so high with the preparation, that becomes an issue,” Nealson said. “We are really focused on getting their confidence up, and the inspiration.”

The Beef Checkoff also works with other organizations within the supply chain, such as food service and retail, to help keep beef on the menu, Nealson added.

“What we are seeing is that people are still going to restaurants, they do plan to eat more at home, so we want to support them with recipes, but when they go to restaurants, they are saving on other things besides the center of the plate,” Nealson said. “They are not having as much on the beverage side, they are not having appetizers, and they are retaining their protein choice, which, as we all know, most often times, is beef when it comes to dining out.”

Nelson said levels of dining out are back to pre-pandemic levels; however, when asking consumers if they plan to dine out over the next year, they say that they plan to eat more at home due to inflation.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR at the top of the story for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

Verified by MonsterInsights