The economic downturn has been particularly hard on the restaurant industry, as overall visits still trail the levels reached six years ago. However, recent data show that spending for away-from-home dining is beginning to increase – the first year-to-year increase in quite some time. In fact, spending levels are almost back to 2008 levels.

While, as cow-calf producers, we wouldn’t be too excited about getting back to the levels of three years ago, at least it appears the bleeding may be slowing for the restaurant sector. Value still remains the driver and that raises concerns about beef’s roles on the menu as cheaper-priced poultry products seem to be the current choice.

One of the interesting things about this downturn is that people ate less at restaurants and turned to eating more at home. But, they didn’t necessarily turn away from beef or even higher-priced cuts – just where they purchased them from.