BEEF Daily

Is Chicken Really More Popular Than Beef?



Chicken out-powers beef for America’s choice of meat.

In 2013, chicken outsold beef in the U.S. I’ve always been proud of the fact that America’s favorite protein was beef, and I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to read that chicken had officially overtaken beef as the most popular meat product consumed in the U.S.

According to an article in the Daily Mail Reporter, “While the per-capita consumption of beef has dropped from a peak of 90 lbs./capita in the 1970s to 50 lbs. in 2012, chicken consumption has gone the other way, rising from under 20 lbs. in 1960 to about 55 lbs. in 2012. Americans now eat less beef then they did in 1955, but is the change a result of a healthier diet or because people are choosing the cheaper option?”


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The article cites both health and affordability as reasons why chicken is outselling beef.

There’s no getting around the price edge that chicken has over beef. Kevin Good, senior analyst for CattleFax, told me in a recent conversation, “Retail beef prices have gone up about 5% in the last couple of years.” He also predicts that beef prices will continue to increase at a 4-5% clip. That presents a tough challenge for beef producers, as more folks are budget-conscious when they go to the grocery store.

It will be our challenge to sell those more affordable beef options like ground beef to our consumers, and show them the versatility and tastefulness of cuts from the chuck vs. a ribeye. The “cook once, dine twice” concept can also help budget-conscious Americans get the most out of their beef. They can cook one roast on a Sunday afternoon and make several meals out of it throughout the week. For example: a hot pot roast one day, sliced thin on a sandwich or pizza the next day, and tossed on a salad as a third option to take to work for lunch.

On the health side, there are 29 cuts of beef that meat dietary guidelines for lean, and many of them rank equally with a skinless chicken breast. In addition, half of the fat found in beef is mono-unsaturated, the same heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Yet, beef has gotten a bad reputation over the years for being artery-clogging and a celebratory treat only, not something to eat on a regular basis.

As beef producers, we need to promote the healthfulness of our product as much as we can. Not only does a lean cut like a sirloin taste better than a plain chicken breast, but it’s good for you, too!

I plan to continue to do my part in boosting beef demand by keeping it at the center of my dinner table, but more than that, I plan to put extra effort in 2014 to promoting the healthfulness and affordability of beef at the dinner table. I’ll do this by talking to friends and acquaintances about beef’s great health and nutrition profile, as well as blogging and using other social media. I invite you all to do the same.

How do you think beef can regain its edge on America’s dinner table? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 7

rofarm (not verified)
on Jan 7, 2014

It seems to me that chicken has gone up more than beef at the fast food level. KFC is almost unaffordable at the drive thru venue. To promote the "good" fat information we need to hit that hard at the retail case. Use more of the beef checkoff dollars. I have not seen a beef ad in quite a while. Where is this money going? Seems they always get plenty from me! Just my opinion.

on Jan 7, 2014

We have to remember that there is not as much check off money as there was because the numbers are down.

W.E. (not verified)
on Jan 7, 2014

We live next door to a family farm with a chicken operation of eight houses. They can finish 240,000 birds every six to eight weeks. The stench is horrific by the time the birds get close to finished weight, especially on still, hot summer days when the pervasive oder of incinerated birds and feathers is absolutely unbearable, and makes breathing outdoors in our pastures an unpleasant struggle. We no longer cook chicken at home, because the meat reminds us of that stench. We feel sorry for our young neighbors who have committed themselves to that life, because they have little choice but to spend part of nearly every day walking through those houses where the birds never see the light of the sun, picking up dead birds. They were convinced that this was the only way they could farm on a limited acreage. If every chicken-eater had the opportunity to be a neighbor to a poultry farm, or to walk through one of those houses, there would be a lot less chicken sold, and a lot more beef. Beef producers can't compete with poultry's cheap mass production, but we do have other options: Cattlemen can fight back by emphasizing quality of nutrition and good land management. The natural cleanliness and superior nutrient density of pasture-raised beef is one option that demonstrates beef's true worth as a meat that can be produced sustainably on pasture, restoring and fertilizing the land as it grazes in balance with natural processes.

Jordan (not verified)
on Jan 7, 2014

McDonald's should roll out a breakfast menu item that is a beef patty with an egg and cheese on an English muffin. I ate those all the time in Japan and thought it was a crime that we don't have them here. It could go over great, even as a limited time menu item.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 7, 2014

Consider the chicken wing! Forty years ago they were a byproduct that went into fertilizer. Today’s wholesale chicken skinless breasts sell for $1.69/lb. and chicken wings (cut/party) $1.99/lb. Excess breasts are now ground into Chicken McNuggets. The secret of success is not dealing in scarcity but finding something in excess and discovering a new way to market it. Who would have thought slathering hot sauce on a chicken wing in Buffalo, NY would sell so much chicken, unless you live in Buffalo and net the hot sauce to melt the snow.
It has been leaked by a Cornell University extern that at a secret location in Ithaca, NY using GMO technology and nuclear radiation a six winged chicken has been bred and can reproduce.
Beef needs a prepared tasty finger food easily paired with a brewski from the Ithaca Beer Company. I am afraid Rocky Mountain Oysters are not in enough excess.

JB (not verified)
on Jan 7, 2014

Really, why don't we have an appealing alternative with beef for breakfast, beef sausage, or bacon. I mean if they have turkey bacon, beef should be able to beat that hands down.

W.E. (not verified)
on Jan 8, 2014

Beef breakfast sausage
3 pounds lean ground beef
(we use whole cow grassfed hamburger)
(or a combination beef and red veal)
1 tbsp. Morton's Tenderquick salt
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. pepper flakes (crushed red pepper) optional
1 tsp. paprika
Mix all ingredients together very well, by hand or in a food processor. Form into 3 sticks, wrap in waxed paper, and cure in refrigerator, uncovered, for 24 hours. Bake on wire rack for 60 minutes at 300 degrees. Slice ¼ inch thick. Delicious, especially served warm on a biscuit or on good crackers with brown mustard.

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What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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