CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Flavor research is showing that consumer tastes and habits have undergone some changes since 2005, according to the Beef Checkoff. The organization’s consumer research project delved into consumers' preparation methods and flavors used in beef preparation.

“This kind of research really helps the checkoff do a number of things, such as understand the types of meals typically prepared and under what circumstances; and, determine general food attitudes including willingness to try new types of food,” said Dave Zino, executive chef for the beef checkoff. “It also enables us to understand how these attributes may differ by segment, including ethnicity, gender and region and how things continue to change over time.”

The Beef Checkoff tracked these consumption patterns in 2002, 2005 and again in 2012.

The 2012 data shows:

• In 2012, respondents are eating the same amount of lunches and dinners at home compared to 2005, although they report eating out less (which may be a function of the economy).

• The number of “foodies” has increased since 2005, driven by a wide variety of resources for new recipes such as the Internet and cooking shows. Consumers are also showing an increased interest in trying new foods, and more respondents say they enjoy cooking.

• In 2012, respondents are eating more ground beef (most preferred is 80 percent lean/20 percent fat) and less deli-style beef products and steaks. However consumers continue to eat beef at frequencies similar to 2005 levels.

• At parity with 2005, 64 percent of respondents said they like to buy larger sizes of beef and freeze some for later, while 36 percent prefer to buy beef fresh to eat within a day or two.

• The most preferred method of beef preparation included steaks grilled outdoors, ground beef as burgers prepared on an outdoor grill, sliced or cubed beef cooked with onions, peppers or other vegetables (such as fajitas or stir fry); and, roasts prepared in the oven, on the stovetop or in a Crockpot.

• All accompanying flavors, sauces, and spices are liked at higher levels in 2012 than was true in 2005.

• Consumers prefer American or local food and Italian food, although a variety of different ethnic foods have become more popular since 2005.