Middle Meats: To The Grill And Beyond…

For many consumers, their love affair with the great taste of beef is found in middle meats – cuts from the Rib, Loin and Sirloin.1  While Ground Beef, strips, cubes, end and minor primal cuts are also popular choices, consumer willingness to pay handsomely for the middle meat experience clearly confirms a special enthusiasm for these cuts.  Further, as marbling is prominent and most associated with this central portion of the carcass, today’s Rib and Loin cuts have benefited most from the ongoing quality grade improvements of beef.2

As to which cuts drive Rib, Loin and Sirloin sales, the table below includes the top 10 (along with dollar sales) for each.3  (Sirloin cuts are included with the Loin for this analysis.)  Prominent cuts from the Rib include steaks and roasts as well as various Rib cuts, with Ribeye Steak dominating all others.  Of the $3.2 billion in 2018 Rib cut sales, the top 10 account for 99% of the total.  Compared to total beef meat case sales, Rib cuts account for 12% of dollar sales yet only 7% of pounds (Chart 1).  And relative to average beef prices, Rib cut prices have remained quite robust in recent years, averaging 166% of the total beef price in 2018.

Amongst Loin (and Sirloin) cuts, Strip Steak is the leading cut, followed by several additional “favorite-steak” options such as T-Bone, Tenderloin and Top Sirloin.  Roast cuts also enter the top 10.  2018 Loin cut sales approached $5.4 billion, 84% of which are captured by the top 10.  In total, however, this primal is much more diverse than the Rib, as sales for 49 different cuts were recorded this past year.  Chart 1 shows Loin cut sales account for 20% of total beef dollar sales while the Loin price premium has declined slightly in recent years to 160% of the retail average price for all beef.  By subprimal, Sirloin, Top Sirloin and Tenderloin price premiums improved whereas the relative decrease was driven by less robust Bottom Sirloin, Short Loin and Strip Loin cut prices.4

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