Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Presented at Range Beef Cow Symposium XXI, December 1-3, 2009, Casper, Wyoming. Sponsored by Cooperative Extension Services and the Animal Science Departments of the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Nebraska¬Lincoln.


Large shifts in domestic beef demand have had substantial impacts on the beef industry. Before the late 1970s, growth in the U.S. economy and rising consumer incomes contributed to beef demand increasing for a sustained period. In response to growing product demand, the beef industry increased in size. However, starting about 1980, domestic retail beef demand weakened and subsequently declined every year through 1998. The long-run decline in retail beef demand contributed to a reduction in cattle industry size, particularly in relation to competing meat sectors such as poultry and pork. In 1999, following nearly 20 consecutive years of decline, domestic beef demand began to strengthen. From the late 1990s through 2004, the all fresh domestic retail beef demand index increased from a low of 76 to a peak of 92, before weakening again from 2005 through 2008.