The latest research in consumer beef eating habits, funded by the beef checkoff, shows some changes in 2012 compared to similar research conducted in 2005.
The latest data shows people are eating in restaurants less often, which may be a reflection of the economy. But it shows there is also more interest in new recipes and more people saying they enjoy cooking. There are also more online recipes and more cooking shows.
The research shows that consumers are eating beef at about the same number of meals, but they are eating more ground beef and less deli-style products and less steak.
The favorite cooking method for steaks and burgers was grilled outdoors, while sliced or cubed beef was preferred in stir fry or fajitias.
The research revealed that most respondents enjoyed sauces or flavoring in their beef products and that a variety of ethnic foods have gained popularity since 2005. However, American or local food and Italian food are still the favorites.
"This kind of research really helps the checkoff do a number of things, such as understand the types of meals typically prepared and under what circumstances; and, determine general food attitudes including willingness to try new types of food," says Dave Zino, executive chef at the National Cattlemen's Beef Accociation, a contractor to the beef checkoff. "It also enables us to understand how these attributes may differ by segment, including ethnicity, gender and region and how things continue to change over time."
So what do the numbers really mean? The beef checkoff consistently uses the findings from beef flavor research to guide recipe development, aid in menu ideation for restaurants and better understand the consumer base across the United States.
"As consumer trends and attitudes about beef change, and as eating habits shift according to economic drivers, the checkoff must have a firm grasp on what consumers want and how they want it," says Zino. "It's the checkoff's way of always striving to keep more beef on more menus and more dinner tables."