Consumers less willing to pay for high-priced protein

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After jumping in the month of June, consumer willingness-to-pay for beef, pork and poultry products dropped in July but remains higher to this time last year, according to the latest Food Demand Survey from Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics.

After increasing between 11 to 35 percent last month, consumers indicated in the monthly survey that their willingness-to-pay for popular protein products, ranging from steak and chicken breasts to pork chops and hamburger, was down as much as 20 percent.

Compared to the June survey, consumers’ willingness-to-pay for steak decreased from $7.52 per pound to $7.00 per pound and hamburger dropped from $4.50 per pound to $4.30 per pound. Chicken wings experienced the biggest drop, of 20.15 percent, from $2.73 per pound last month to $2.18 per pound in July. Pork chops ($3.71 per pound) and deli ham ($2.48 per pound) were also down, decreasing 10.39 percent and 14.19 percent, respectively.

While consumers reported spending slightly less on groceries in July compared to June, they reported spending nearly 6 percent more eating out. According to the survey, despite an expectation that beef prices will continue to rise in the coming weeks, there was a slight improvement in planned beef buying.

According to the USDA Weekly Retail Beef Feature Activity report for the week of July 11-17, 2014, there was a 1 percent increase in the number of retail outlets featuring beef. USDA says cuts from the Chuck, Round, Loin and Ground Beef saw more ad space this week while Rib and Brisket cuts saw less ad space.

Consumers responded to the Oklahoma State survey that E. Coli, Salmonella and GMO were the most visible food-related issues in the news over the past two weeks, and Salmonella, E. Coli and hormones were consumers’ top three food-related concerns.

The survey also asked three ad hoc questions related to what consumers believe decisions about food policy should be based on. Survey respondents indicated that a tax charged on soda should be based on the views of average Americans and on moral and ethical decisions. However, the use of the term “natural” on packaging, selling raw milk, the use of growth hormones, and labeling GMOs, according to the survey respondents, should be based on the views of experts and on scientific evidence of risk and benefit.

Finally, the survey included an open ended question related to increased efficiency and production on today’s dairies. The question asked respondents how those changes happened. According to responses, the term hormones was referenced the most at 134 responses, followed be feed choices (78 responses), science (61 responses), breeding and genetics (61 responses), drugs and steroids (30 responses), farming techniques (27 responses), and economics (6 responses).

The complete Food Demand Survey is available to review here

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Marilyn Z    
North Central Texas  |  July, 17, 2014 at 05:00 PM

I am not paying those prices...we are eating more vegetarian meals and when we do use meat...even chicken, we will put it in a stir fry. I do make sure we are getting our necessary amount of protein and I spread it out through the day...just like with calcium products. BTW, we are eating much more homemade Greek yogurt. It is MUCH cheaper to make it at home and I use the yogurt to make a wonderful blueberry cheesecake.

maggie b    
MS  |  July, 18, 2014 at 08:10 AM

It's not that we are unwilling, it is more that we are unable. I went to the store yesterday and while getting some frozen veggies to add to the fresh in a soup I happened to notice one pot pie was $3.88. One single serving. Getting a package of hamburger was over $8.00. Pork is actually more affordable than beef and I like it a lot. I got two butterfly chops for under $4 and felt pretty lucky about that. A package of pork sausage is close to $4 for a lb. Everything is so high it's hard to eat well. We are growing a garden to try to make ends meet and I'm planning to buy some hogs to raise but most folks can't do that.

Arizona  |  July, 18, 2014 at 01:46 PM

Time to do more fishing, hunting and raising our own food. We have a garden and do home canning. We are eating less meat and more vegetables and fruit. Recently a local grocery store had wild caught salmon for $3.88 a pound. Cheaper than beef! I bought 10 lbs worth and stuck some in the freezer. Another store had 85% ground beef for $2.99. I bought 20 lbs and stuck it in the freezer. They also had boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.67 a pound. I bought 20 pounds of that and stuck it in the freezer too. Unless there is another good sale, we won't be buying much more meat for the rest of the year.


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