How Much Beef Does the Average American Eat in a Year?

Beef is one of the most popular meats consumed in the United States From hamburgers to steaks, beef is a staple of the American diet But exactly how much beef does the average American eat in a year?

In this article, we’ll break down the typical beef consumption patterns in the U.S and look at how much beef the average person eats annually from grocery stores and restaurants combined

We’ll also compare beef intake to other meats and see how beef consumption has changed over the past few decades. Let’s dive right in!

Average Annual Beef Consumption per Person

According to the USDA, the average American consumes approximately 57.2 pounds of beef per year. This includes all cuts and products – from ground beef to roasts, ribs, brisket and steaks.

To put it another way, the typical American eats about 1.1 pounds of beef per week, or roughly 160 quarter-pound hamburger patties per year.

Clearly, beef remains a staple food in most people’s diets. Now let’s look at how this breaks down between meals prepared at home versus dining out…

Beef Eaten at Home vs Restaurants

Of the total 57 pounds of beef consumed annually, Americans eat:

  • 37.5 pounds purchased from grocery stores & markets – to cook at home
  • 19.7 pounds from restaurants & other food services – burgers, steaks, etc

So about two-thirds of the beef we eat comes from fresh meats cooked at home. The other one-third comes from restaurant meals or take-out.

It’s interesting to note that the amount of beef eaten from food service establishments has dropped over the past 15 years, from 28 pounds per capita in 2005 down to 20 pounds in 2019.

This corresponds to the rise of fast casual, gourmet burger joints, which tend to use leaner blends of beef in smaller portioned burgers compared to fast food.

Now let’s see how beef stacks up to chicken and other meats in the American diet…

Beef vs Chicken Consumption

Of all the meats Americans eat, chicken is now the most popular, followed closely by beef:

  • Chicken: 94.4 pounds per year
  • Beef: 57.2 pounds per year
  • Pork: 51.7 pounds per year
  • Turkey: 16.9 pounds per year
  • Lamb: 1.1 pounds per year

As you can see, chicken consumption exceeds beef by quite a margin. The taste, versatility and health perception of chicken has made it the go-to choice for protein.

However, on a daily recommended serving basis of 5-6 ounces, beef and chicken come out fairly even – Americans eat the equivalent of a serving of beef every 5 days, compared to a serving of chicken every 4 days.

Clearly both remain core to the average American’s diet. Now let’s look at how beef consumption has shifted over time…

Changes in Beef Consumption Over the Years

Beef consumption patterns have fluctuated significantly over the past century:

  • In the 1930s & 40s, the average American ate about 50 pounds of beef per year.

  • In the 1970s, beef intake hit a peak of 95 pounds per person. This was the era of TV dinners, hamburger helper, and excess.

  • By the 1990s, beef consumption dropped to 75 pounds per year on average. Health concerns around red meat emerged.

  • Over the past decade, intake stabilized around 57 pounds annually. Price, portion sizes, and poultry’s rise have all contributed.

So while beef is no longer the center of the plate like in decades past, it remains an important part of the American diet.

Now let’s zoom in on the different beef cuts we’re eating…

Breakdown of Beef Cuts Consumed

Of all the beef Americans eat in a year, here’s the breakdown by major cuts:

  • Ground beef: 26.6 pounds – nearly 50% of all beef eaten is ground!
  • Steaks: 8.8 pounds
  • Roasts: 5.8 pounds
  • Short ribs & brisket: 3.8 pounds
  • Other (stews, processed meats etc): 10.6 pounds

Clearly ground beef is king – unsurprising given the popularity of hamburgers and convenience of ground meat for tacos, meatloaf, pasta sauce etc.

Steaks account for about 1 pound of consumption per month. While not an everyday meal, a juicy steak still finds a regular spot in many American’s diets.

Ground Beef Use at Home

Of the 37 pounds or so of beef bought at grocery stores annually, three-quarters is ground beef. Here’s how we use ground beef at home:

  • Hamburgers: 33%
  • Mixed dishes (lasagne, chili): 21%
  • Tacos: 18%
  • Meatloaf: 8%
  • Meatballs: 6%
  • Other: 14%

Burgers remain the #1 use, but most ground beef gets incorporated into versatile mixed dishes that stretch our food budget.

Nutrition & Sustainability of Beef

While beef clearly remains an integral part of the American diet, two aspects to consider are its nutrition and sustainability:

  • Beef is one of the most nutrient-dense foods, providing high quality protein, iron, zinc, creatine and vitamin B12. But the saturated fat and cholesterol content of some cuts should be moderated.

  • From a sustainability viewpoint, beef production has a high environmental impact compared to other proteins. Consider leaner cuts, portion sizes and rotation with other proteins.

As with most foods, moderate beef consumption as part of an overall healthy and balanced diet is perfectly fine for most people. Just be mindful of your individual nutritional needs and intake.

To Recap…

  • The average American eats approximately 57 pounds of beef per year, which equals around 1 pound per week.

  • 2/3 of beef is purchased from grocery stores, 1/3 comes from dining out.

  • Consumption has declined from a peak in the 1970s, but beef still remains a dietary staple.

  • Ground beef accounts for nearly 50% of all beef eaten annually.

  • Moderating portion sizes and sustainability are considerations around beef intake.

What If You Only Ate Meat?

How much beef do Americans eat a year?

According to the USDA, Americans consume an average of about 57 pounds of beef per person per year. This is based on the most recent available data, which is from 2019. Beef consumption in the United States has fluctuated over the years, with a peak of 91.9 pounds per person in 1976, and a low of 54.8 pounds per person in 2009.

How much meat does each person consume on average?

On average, each person in the United States consumed 252 pounds of meat over the entire period. However, the average meat consumption per person was relatively stable from 1999 to 2006 at over 250 pounds. From 2007 to 2013, meat consumption fell to a low of 235 pounds per person.

How much beef do you eat a day?

Note: Beef types are not mutually exclusive, so the types will not equal the total, (e.g., fresh lean beef includes a portion that is ground, but not all ground beef is lean, and some consumers only consume certain beef types). For adult beef consumers aged 19–59 years, the usual intake of total beef was 91.8 ± 1.2 g (3.2 ± 0.04 oz) per day.

Do adults eat a lot of beef?

The current study analyzed consumption levels of total beef and beef types (fresh lean beef, ground beef, and processed beef) in Americans 2 years and older over an 18-year period (2001–2018) and found significant declines in beef consumption in children, adolescents, and adults, while consumption remained consistent in older adults.

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