Beef Jerky

Iowans Choose Beef Over Meat Substitutes

Casey Anderson | January 31, 2023

Beef continues to lead with strong demand and a competitive advantage over beef substitutes, accounting for more than 99.03% of the consumer preference. When evaluating the protein market as a whole, animal proteins take an even larger slice of the meat demand pie accounting for 99.33% of the protein market share. This data is derived from NielsenIQ, Answers in Demand. The story doesn't end there. Continue reading to learn more about what Iowan's preferences towards beef. 

Every year, the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) conducts a state survey to see what Iowans' attitudes are toward beef and beef production. It also shows what Iowa beef trends are compared to trends on a national level. The results help IBIC make informed decisions on how to best influence consumers in Iowa. 

 Important statistics from the survey: 

  • 79% of consumers in Iowa eat beef weekly
  • 39% of Iowans claim to have knowledge of the beef industry versus 27% nationally
  • 85% of consumers in Iowa have a positive perception of beef compared to 71% nationally
  • 91% of Iowans believe beef is great tasting and is good for many types of meals
  • 73% of consumers in Iowa believe beef is safe to eat versus 62% nationally
  • 71% of Iowans recognize the Iowa Beef Checkoff brand or logo

This year’s key findings: Your checkoff is working Weekly beef consumption is strong in Iowa. Iowa consumers have positive views of beef and production. Consumer trust levels in the Iowa beef industry are strong. 

Beef Marketshare Soars Over Meat Substitutes

The Consumer Beef Tracker, a continuous online survey conducted by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor of the Beef Checkoff, indicated over two-thirds of consumers are non-restrictive eaters, or non-vegetarian, and almost a fifth are semi-vegetarian or flexitarian, which means they mostly follow a vegetarian diet but still enjoy meat sometimes. The small remainder of consumers are vegetarian or vegan-vegetarian and remains steady over time.

Meat alternatives appear to be added to their diets for variety. Most consumers aren’t directly replacing meat with substitutes either. When they are intentionally ordering or making a meal without meat, it is usually a meal that doesn’t need to contain meat. Over half of consumers are eating bean, lentil, rice, grain-based dishes or salads while thirty percent are eating plant-based protein patties or “meat-like” crumbles instead of meat.

Customer Buying Considerations

Iowa consumers are considering taste and source of protein most. When asked what are the top 3 factors considered most when deciding to have a meal with beef, chicken, pork, fish, meat alternatives or some other source of protein, 46% of consumers selected taste. This is followed closely by respondents prioritizing great sources of protein, safety and value for the money. 

This is predicated on the fact that consumers show a strong level of trust towards Iowans and beef production. Consumers acknowledge that cattle health is a top priority for producers, that producers care about the environment and the idea that cattle are given room to roam.

IBIC will continue to support producers by communicating on the topics consumers have questions about. By communicating the care, integrity and pride producers take in raising beef, we can continue to build upon consumer’s positive perceptions of beef producers and beef production in Iowa. To learn more visit