May is National Beef Month

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) celebrates beef all month long as beef farmers nationwide are gearing up for grilling season and an increased demand from consumers.

As backyard gourmets fire up their grills, the summer season witnesses a surge in retail beef sales. It’s prime time for outdoor cooking, especially with the observance of three major holidays – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Seventy percent of grill owners barbecue on Fourth of July. Memorial Day is the second most-popular grilling day at 62 percent, while Labor Day is third at 55 percent (NCBA).

With the economy in recession, beef prices have been significantly reduced, with some cuts experiencing a 3-to-12 percent cost decrease, according to the Beef Checkoff, a producer-funded marketing and research program designed to increase domestic and international demand for beef.

With beef costs on the decline, coupled with the emerging grill season, beef producers and industry partners are ardently promoting their products with aggressive advertising, trade-show appearances, grocer promotions and partnerships.

BeefUSA is a Web site dedicated to furthering the success of the beef industry with links to health and farming information for consumers, producers, retailers, restaurateurs and industry partners.

Industry Beef Bites (Source: NCBA unless otherwise noted)
  • Christopher Columbus brought cattle to America during his second visit in 1943.
  • The U.S. beef industry is worth an estimated $175 billion with cattlemen conducting business in all 50 states and operating 800,000 individual farms and ranches.
  • A smaller cowherd and fewer cattle in feedlots have provided generally smaller beef supplies in 2009 (Chris Hurt, Purdue Extension agricultural economist).
  • 2009 retail beef prices have averaged $4.33 per pound compared to 2008’s $4.16 per pound price but are still greater than foodservice beef sales (Hurt).
  • Fifty percent of beef sales come from foodservice (Hurt).
Health-conscious consumers tend to stray away from beef and opt for chicken and seafood fare instead. Many Americans link beef with cardiovascular health issues, but eating beef in moderation is healthy. The NCBA works to promote the health benefits of beef at The USDA has classified 29 cuts of beef as “lean,” including round, sirloin and flank, though the most popular cut of beef consumed in the U.S. is ground beef.

Nutrition Beef Bites (Source: NCBA)
  • A serving qualifies as "lean" if it has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce serving.
  • A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 51 percent of the daily value for protein total.
  • A 3-ounce serving of lean beef contributes less than 10 percent of daily calories to a 2,000-calorie diet.
  • Beef provides 10 essential nutrients, including iron, phosphorous and selenium and is the No. 1 food source for including zinc, protein and vitamin B.
  • Beef is a source of creatine, an acid that helps in supplying energy to the nerve cells and muscle.
As temperatures rise, have you thought about what you’ll be grilling this season? For recipe ideas, visit

How does beef stack up compared to other protein options in terms of taste, cost and availability? Do you think health facts about beef contribute to beef sales? What can the beef industry and beef-industry partners do to increase sales?

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