Despite record-high prices, beef sales in restaurants rose in both volume and value in 2013, according to a report funded by the beef industry.
The 2013 Usage and Volumetric Assessment of Beef in Foodservice report, conducted by restaurant research firm Technomic for the Beef Checkoff Program, said that eight billion pounds of beef were sold in foodservice channels, an increase of 79 million pounds from 2012, accounting for 32 percent of all animal protein sold in foodservice channels.
More than a quarter of that growth, about 22 million pounds, came in the form of ground beef, something commodity expert John Barone, president of Market Vision, Inc., said might be due to the continued proliferation of hamburger chains.
Multiple years of drought have contributed to high cattle feed prices, he said, which in turn has resulted in shrinking herds, as ranchers slaughter their cattle rather than feed them.
Although cattle producers are working to rebuild their stock, a relief in beef prices is unlikely until late 2016, Barone said.
Nonetheless, growth of beef sales in restaurants continues across the board. Beef rib sales were particularly robust, having grown by 14 percent, or 18 million pounds, in large part due to the proliferation of short ribs on menus.
Steak sales by volume have also risen by 18 million pounds, which is just 1.7 percent of total sales. The growth is led by sirloin steak, which accounted for 14 million pounds of the growth.
Emerging cuts such as flat iron steaks, chuck eye roasts and tri tip grew by 3.4 percent.
The annual volumetric study evaluates beef sales in terms of pounds and dollars. Respondents to the survey include protein-purchasing executives at 180 of the top 250 restaurant chains, which represent $41 billion of foodservice sales in 2012. It has measured an increase of 178 million pounds in total beef sales in foodservice since 2009.
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