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UF study: Beef-eating has rebounded slightly

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Consumer worries about fat and cholesterol have declined somewhat, and cattle producers are benefiting from renewed demand, according to a new study.

While overall consumption of beef and some dairy products has gone down in the past decade, the trend has slowed and even perked up among certain consumer categories, the University of Florida research shows.

Special promotional programs by the beef industry have yielded results, said Ronald Ward, professor and food economist at the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

"There's no question that generic advertising, which has been going on since 1987, has had a positive impact. We found that it increases the percent of households that include beef in their diet by 3 to 5 percent," Ward said.

"Secondly, for those individuals already consuming beef, the study found that the promotions increased this by half a serving over the two-week (test) period."

The analysis is based on 21,000 households.

Ward's study focused on beef, but he said other studies indicate that promotional programs by the dairy industry and others also have helped overcome some concerns about health.

Those who said they were most careful about their diets have eliminated about 13 servings of beef a year.

The beef industry didn't know the impact of the campaign it is using to counter fears.

Producers of commodities assess themselves fees for generic advertising. In the beef industry a levy of $1-per-head of cattle sold has generated more than $500-million for promotion over the past eight years.

Ward calculated that the advertising generated more than $3-billion in beef sales in that period.