Great news for your butcher, perhaps less so for your cardiologist: Bloomberg Business reports that Americans are expected to eat more beef in 2016 — an estimated 54.3 pounds per person, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the first increase in ten years.
The beefy bump bucks an overarching trend in meat selection: Demand for the red kind has fallen significantly in recent decades as more U.S. diners have turned to chicken and other leaner proteins.
Falling prices may have something to do with the sudden spike in consumption. The average retail price for a pound of uncooked ground beef ($4.38 in February) has dropped about 7 percent from a year ago, as the U.S. cattle population rebounds after years of dwindling herds in the drought-affected South and Southwest. The rise of protein-centric diets such as the paleo movement may also play a role in the shift.
The uptick also comes in spite of recent red-meat-related health warnings by the World Health Organization.
Demand for beef is still way down from its historic highs. Forty years ago, Americans ate nearly twice as much of the stuff: 94.3 pounds per person in 1976.