Meat matters

Americans are “committed carnivores,” eating more meat and poultry than ever, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

“We love meat, but we would like it if you could make us feel a little better about it,” Ms. Kruse said, pointing to McDonald’s recent national roll-out of fresh beef in Quarter Pounder burgers. “Tell me the story that makes me comfortable in making the choice I really want to make anyway.”

Jack in the Box Prime Rib CheesesteakPrime rib is the meat of the moment, popping up on fine-dining and fast-food menus alike. Jack in the Box recently offered the Prime Rib Cheesesteak, featuring garlic butter, peppers, onions and provolone on a toasted baguette.

“A number of talented young chefs ... are putting some extra culinary thought behind the basic prime rib,” Ms. Kruse said.

Perhaps a bigger opportunity for restaurant operators is seafood, she noted, adding that a third of consumers expect to increase consumption of seafood in the coming year.

“I think that we all know in this country the further that we move inland from the coasts the less comfortable the consumer is with purchasing seafood and cooking it,” she said. “That is where you folks can really shine.”

READ MORE: Global pantry