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The U.S. cattle inventory was at 87.7 million head at the beginning of 2014, the lowest inventory since 1951. Cattle producers have downsized their herds in recent years due to increased incidence of drought and high feed prices. A tight U.S. beef supply coupled with a strong demand for beef are driving beef prices to record highs. Given these conditions, cattle producers will be looking to rebuild their herds in the near future. The beef industry’ s rebuilding strategy should reflect consumer desires in order to sustain beef demand. Recent literature suggests a strong consumer focus on beef quality. Quality can embody many factors, but is most often described as the beef sensory characteristics such as flavor, color, tenderness, and juiciness. These characteristics contribute to the consumer’s beef eating experience and are largely determined by USDA beef quality grades. Estimating beef demand differentiated by quality grade will help determine the best rebuilding focus for the future of the beef industry.


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