How will producers capture extra dollars during these volatile times? Research shows that consumers are still choosing beef, and it's time for cattlemen to cash in on this beef demand.

Just in time for planning for summer merchandising, news from the meat case continues to be good for retailers: recent consumer research points to improvements in consumer attitudes and behaviors toward beef. The number of times consumers choose beef per week grew from 1.9 in January 2007 to 2.5 in July 2008 (a 32% increase)! For retailers, this means that consumers' positive perceptions about beef will help them continue to choose beef when at the meat case, even during tough economic times.

In late 2006, the Consumer Beef Index was developed to provide a way to measure the change in consumer perceptions of beef. Since its first use in a survey in January 2007, there have been three additional online surveys to help gauge consumer views of beef – one in May 2007 and two in 2008.

Data from the July 2008 survey demonstrates that there has been a positive change in consumers' attitudes and behaviors regarding beef. More than 1,000 consumers who influence their household's protein choices at mealtimes were surveyed to assess several categories, including brand health, brand momentum, competitive context and changes over time.

Survey results indicate that beef is stronger than chicken on protein content, taste, satisfaction and other sensory rewards, while chicken leads beef in frequency of current use and anticipated future use. The number of consumers who believe that beef delivers on "a balance of taste and nutrition" increased from 57% in January 2007 to 71% in May 2008 (a 25% increase)!

To read the entire article, view corresponding graphs or learn more about retail trends, visit Beef Retail.