Agri Beef Co., producer of Northwest beef brands Snake River Farms, Double R Ranch and St. Helens, turned to retail and restaurant customers for a recap of the year’s consumer preferences in beef and for insight to trends gaining steam for 2013. Not surprisingly, steaks were among the most-used cuts of meat for customers, and consumers are showing clear preferences for particular brands and cattle-raising methods.
“Consumers are becoming very educated about where their food comes from. As a producer, we feel it is important to respect consumer preferences and consider how we can deliver consistently high quality beef that meets, or better yet exceeds, their strict standards,” says Jeff Van Lith, vice president of product development. “Plus, we want our retail and restaurant customers to succeed, so together, we need to consider how trends are developing so that we can create a win-win-win situation.”
Trends for 2013
As 2013 unfolds, restaurants and retailers feel that consumers will continue to focus on the origins of their food. Among survey participants, 58% felt that local/regional production would be top-of-mind with consumers. Other trends, like non-middle meat/value cuts captured the attention of 42% of respondents, and “better burger” innovations appeared to be a developing trend for 37%.
As the costs of beef production have risen and been passed along, restaurants and retailers are adopting various approaches to handling the budget hit. More than half of survey respondents – 53% – are passing along the costs to their customers with higher plate costs. In addition, 47% are looking to lower-cost cuts. Also among Agri Beef Co.’s survey participants, 32% are trading out beef cuts with other proteins to keep costs in line and 32% are also reducing overall portion sizes.