Beef consumer spending hits record $ 57 billion

February 6, 2002 The Denver Post by Steve Raabe
Americans ate less beef but paid more for it in 2001, signaling a victory for the nation's cattle industry.

Consumer spending on beef reached a record high last year of more than $ 57 billion, according to a report from the Denver-based National Cattlemen's Beef Association and industry statistician Cattle-Fax.

Per capita consumption dropped slightly to 65 pounds compared with 66.1 pounds a year earlier. Yet spending on beef was up 8 percent over 2000, despite a weak economy and declining business travel that undercut sales at steakhouses and other restaurants.

'It's inspiring to see that producers' efforts to build demand continued to pay off even when the economy was shaky at best,' said Dan Hammond, chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and a beef producer from American Falls, Idaho.

The NCBA holds its annual convention this week in Denver, where President Bush and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman are expected to speak.

The convention also marks the end of Chuck Schroeder's seven-year tenure as chief executive of the trade association - a period in which to increase after a 20-year downturn.

Schroeder is leaving to become executive director of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

He said the sharp drop-off in consumer demand during the 1980s and '90s was reversed with a four-pronged industry campaign that emphasized beef's safety, nutrition, convenience and export power.

'We had been a perfect profile of an industry in decline,' Schroeder said. 'It was a clarion call to focus our people and our dollars on turning it around.'

Part of the recovery was accomplished with a marketing campaign funded by the industry's controversial 'check-off' program, funded by producers paying $ 1 for every head of cattle they sell.

The program has generated several lawsuits from beef producers who claimed that it benefited large meat packers but did little for small ranchers.

Schroeder disagrees, vehemently.

'When you look at the turnaround in demand, you've got to credit the role of the check-off,' he said.

He described the lawsuits as 'horribly unfortunate.'

'It's one of the most pointless battles we've ever taken on.'

U.S. beef exports fell 7 percent through November of last year, said Phil Seng, president and chief executive of the Denver-based U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The drop occurred largely because of reduced sales to Japan after an outbreak there of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.

Japanese consumers became fearful of all imported beef, Seng said, even though there have been no reported cases of BSE in the United States.

The export group has launched an $ 8 million marketing campaign to bolster consumer confidence and sales in Japan, which accounts for almost half of all U.S. beef exports.

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Donate | About Us | Contact Us

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.