Historically, the United States has been a country that planned its meals around meat. From poultry to beef, U.S. citizens enjoy a variety of meat options. However, supermarket trends indicate that Americans aren't eating as much meat as they once did. And the most frequently consumed meats in the United States are changing as well.
Meat Consumption Trends
- According to a 2012 article published by NPR , the average American eats 270.7 pounds of meat each year, which is more than twice the worldwide average of 102.7 pounds.
- Based on data published in the 2014 Power of Meat Conference, the typical American consumes 3.8 dinners each week that include a portion of meat. Although this number is slightly higher than 2013, it is significantly lower than the average of data from previous years' studies, which averaged at about 4.1.
- NPR reports that total meat consumption rose dramatically from 1909 to 2000. However, it has begun to decline in recent years. Nonetheless, people in the United States still eat more meat than people in any other country-- with the exception of Luxembourg.
- The National Institutes of Health report that, in 2010, more than half of all meat consumed in the United States came from beef. Since 2010, however, this percentage has decreased.
- Although Americans still eat beef more frequently than most other types of meat, the amount of beef eaten in the United States is steadily declining while the amount of poultry has been on the rise since 1930-- finally overtaking beef as the staple of American kitchens in 2012.
Understanding the Shift
The data on United States meat consumption indicate two key trends among American consumers:
- A decline in overall meat consumption rate
- A move away from beef in favor of other options, such as poultry
According to Leading Market Research, the decline in overall meat consumption is due in part to the economic downturn that began affecting Americans in 2008. To reduce food-related expenses, Americans reduced the amount of meat purchased and began opting for less expensive cuts of meat.
As the economy recovered, meat consumption increased slightly, but it still remains significantly lower than it was before the recession began.
But price isn't the only factor that contributed to the decline of meat.
Another reason for the reduction in the amount of meat consumed involves growing health concerns among people in the United States. The consumption of meat (especially red meat like beef) has been linked to numerous medical problems, including heart disease and certain types of cancer.
As Americans have become more concerned about their health, they have limited the amount of meat in their diets and opted for plant-based proteins instead. Health-related concerns are also partly responsible for the decrease in beef consumption and the subsequent increase in poultry consumption. Because poultry is presumed to be a healthier option than red meat, consumers have begun to reduce the amount of red meat in their diets and eat poultry instead.
The final cause of changes to supermarket trends involving meat is the mounting evidence that meat production can be harmful to the environment, contributing to global warming and deforestation.
Regardless of which of these factors contributed the most to the shifting supermarket trends, the evidence clearly shows that the American perspective on meat is changing. Although most people in the United States still consume meat on a regular basis, they aren't eating at frequently as they did five years ago. Furthermore, the meat that is consumed today is more likely to come from poultry and less likely to come from beef.
These changes carry implications for every facet of the food industry in the United States-- from agriculture to production.