Fresh Food

Beef Drives Bigger Baskets, Total Store Sales

Beef is the most valuable product at retail
Photograph: Shutterstock

Beef is the most valuable product at retail, according to a new custom Fresh Meat Market Basket Analysis commissioned by Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. The research shows that beef brings in more dollars than any other item at retail and is also purchased during a significantly higher percentage of shopping trips than the other proteins studied. Consumers who buy beef are driving up total store sales, further providing testament that despite a variety of protein options available at retail today, beef is the most valuable protein for retailers to carry.

Beef buyers purchase more across the entire store than buyers of either chicken or beef substitutes, and baskets with beef are also considerably larger than the average basket overall, the research found. The report also provided detailed information about the demographic breakdown of the consumers who opt for each of these items, including the differences between consumers who tend to buy steak versus those who buy Ground Beef.

Beef sales at retail were more than doubled the sales for chicken and dwarfed the sales generated by beef substitutes, according to IRI panel data, which captured purchases from 100,000 households for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 6, 2019.

These higher sales carry over into the overall size of the carts of consumers who purchase beef, chicken or beef substitutes, the research revealed. Other things of note in the research include:

  • The average cart containing beef is more than twice as large as the average cart overall for all trips, which totaled an average of $41.83.
  • Baskets containing beef, at an average total of $85.70, were higher than baskets containing either chicken or beef substitutes, which came in at $84.72 and $81.84, respectively. The beef portion of the total beef basket was an average of $13.58.
  • Baskets containing steak had a considerably higher value, at an average of $91.89, including $15.47 spent on steak products, followed by baskets containing ground beef, at an average of $88.95, which included $9.40 spent on Ground Beef.

Sales across the store

Overall, carts with beef produce 44% more sales across the store than carts with chicken and 19 times greater sales than beef substitutes, the report found.

The report also measured what other items shoppers tend to put in their baskets when they buy beef, and the results span categories throughout the supermarket, from dry grocery and fresh produce to dairy, deli and frozen foods.

Among the products that have the highest affinity with beef purchases are pasta items, natural shredded cheese, raw onions, sliced luncheon meats, fresh eggs, fresh cut salad, fresh bread, refrigerated whole milk and ready-to eat cereal. This suggests that consumers are stocking up on fresh items and pantry staples when they’re purchasing beef.

Who’s buying beef?

According to the research, the demographic groups that tend to buy the most beef include households with children; larger households; married households; older couples; and male households age 45-plus.

Steak buyers specifically, however, skew more upscale and better educated than beef buyers overall. These households include those that are upper income; older couples; Hispanics; Asians; male households age 45-plus; and male households with some college education or less.

Households that tend to buy more Ground Beef include households that have older children at home; larger households; older couples; male households age 45-64; and rural households.

The Fresh Meat Market Basket Analysis shows that promoting beef benefits the entire store, not just the meat department. Access more actionable insights about marketing beef at



This post is sponsored by Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., a program of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff