Beef is making a comeback.
After decades of diners shunning steaks and burgers for alternate protein options such as chicken and turkey, Americans will eat an estimated 54.3 pounds of the red meat this year – the first increase since 2006 and almost half a pound more per person than in 2015, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cheaper beef prices are spurring discounts and new menu items at restaurant chains, including Chili’s and Wendy’s. Protein-centric diets such as “eating Paleo” are also fueling the shift.
Even with the lower cost, beef consumption is still well below historic levels: Americans ate as much as 94.3 pounds per person in 1976.
Cattle numbers were at their lowest in 2014, following years of drought conditions in the south and southwest that pushed beef prices to extreme highs.
As it stands now, USDA numbers show beef cattle at a five-year high.
In Illinois, we have just over 1 million head of beef cattle, which is a 5.1 percent increase over 2015 and a 9.3 percent increase since 2012.
Certainly, a shift to include more red meat in diets is positive, hoping that Americans will continue to desire more beef in their diets once prices begin to increase again and maintain and increased American beef demand. And all this news is good for corn farmers who simply look to fuel growth in the livestock industry and thus, growth in market demand for corn.