Home Tech A Demographic Time Bomb Is About to Hit the Beef Industry

A Demographic Time Bomb Is About to Hit the Beef Industry

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The early 1970s were the real heyday of beef in the US. It was the era of stroganoff, stews and casseroles, steak lunches and 60-cent burgers. It was also the beginning of a long decline for all-American meat. In 1975, Americans ate an average of nearly 90 pounds of beef per year. That has now dropped to about 57 poundsand chicken has replaced beef as the most consumed meat in the US.

The declining demand for beef is good news for the environment. Beef produces ten times as much greenhouse gases as poultry or pork 20 and 60 times more than many vegetable forms of proteins. But to really find out where beef consumption is going, you have to look WHO precisely loves eating cows, and that’s where things get interesting.

Earlier this year A study from Tulane University in New Orleans found that a relatively small number of Americans are responsible for the lion’s share of beef consumption — and those eaters tend to prefer older and male. But the beef industry is not satisfied with the declining demographics of its customers; she has her sights set on creating a whole new generation of beef-eating stalwarts.

Diego Rose is director of Tulane University’s nutrition program and one of the authors of the article on beef habits in the US. The study used data from a national survey conducted between 2015 and 2018 that asked adult Americans to recall what foods they had eaten in the past 24 hours. The authors defined anyone who ate more than 120 grams of beef per day – just over one cooked hamburger – as a heavy consumer of beef, since US Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults eat no more than 120 grams of meat, poultry and eggs per day.

More than half of respondents had eaten beef in the past 24 hours, but what surprised Rose was how few people were responsible for the bulk of beef consumption. According to his data, only 12 percent of people surveyed were responsible for half of the total beef consumed. People who ate a lot of beef were more likely to be men and between 50 and 65 years old, which roughly corresponds to the baby boom generation.

Today’s major consumers of beef likely grew up in the golden age of beef in the US, before rising prices and health fears associated with red meat made beef a less central part of the diet. “In general, your dietary habits are inelastic,” says Rose. From around the age of young adulthood, people tend to stick to foods they already know they like. People aged 66 or older were also less likely to be heavy consumers of beef – something Rose believes may be due to people eating less meat on the advice of doctors. “My suspicion is that life is catching up with them,” he says.

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