Survey: Shoppers Favor Steak

A December survey of consumer attitudes by Oklahoma State University shows shoppers favoring beef steak over chicken breast and hamburger, although acceptance of retail prices is up for all products when compared with a year ago.

The monthly online survey of at least 1,000 individuals is weighted to match US demographics in terms of age, gender, education and region of residence.  Called the Food Demand Survey, or FooDS, it showed that shoppers were willing to pay an average of $7.80 a pound for beef steak, versus $7.00 in November, an 11.43% increase.

Conversely, they were willing to pay only $5.02 a pound for chicken breasts, a decline of $2.71% from November’s $5.16.  Willingness to pay for hamburger also declined in December, going to $4.49 a pound from $4.62 in November, a 2.81% decrease.

The survey does not ask why consumer attitudes shift in a particular month, but part of the desire to shift away from chicken to steak may have something to do with the timing of the survey between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Consumers may be a little burned out on poultry after the Thanksgiving turkey and nearly a week of leftovers and simply are ready to move back to beef.  The looming Christmas and New Year’s holidays may be turning their heads more toward steak or other foods.

For instance, shoppers were willing to pay more for pasta than they were in November, 8.91% more, in fact, going to $3.79 a pound from $3.48.




Comparing statistics with a year ago sometimes smooths out month-to-month wrinkles, and when compared with a year ago, consumers were willing to pay more for all food items listed in the survey, a sign they may be becoming more accustomed to higher price levels.

By percentage of increase, however, chicken wings were the clear winner in terms of consumer willingness to pay.  Survey respondents said they were willing to pay $2.52 a pound for chicken wings in December, a rise of 30.6% from $1.93 a year earlier.

Beef steak was second.  Consumers were willing to pay $7.80 a pound this year, versus $6.41 last year, a jump of 21.68%.

Deli ham came in third, with consumers willing to pay $2.67 a pound this year, up 20.8% from a year ago’s $2.21.




The Oklahoma State University study also showed that consumers expect to eat out less over the two weeks following the survey, just as they did last month and last year.  Again, this may have something to do with looming late-November and late-December holidays.

Consumers said they expected meals eaten away from home to decline 1.46% in the following two weeks, compared with a decline of 1.85% in November and a 1.63% dip in December 2013.

Although the vast majority of respondents said they expected meat purchases to remain the same, there were some slight variations.  About 0.32% of respondents said they planned to buy more chicken in coming weeks, the same as in November and slightly more than the 0.27% a year ago.

But those who said they planned to buy more pork was down 0.07% from the mean, only a slight improvement from the minus 0.10% in November and equal to a year ago.

Expected beef purchases were about the same with the survey mean at 0.00%, compared with minus 0.05% in November and a minus 0.01% a year ago.

Consumers also showed an awareness and concern for a variety of food issues, including aspects of how food is produced, showing that more people care about these things, and the issue is not going away.