COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Like the rare Who-Roast Beast in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," roast beef is a big part of the Christmas dinner celebration for Americans.

Most of the year sales of beef rib and loin roasts average about four million pounds a month. But, in just the week before Christmas, sales are triple that monthly average, at about 12 million pounds.

Missouri Beef Industry Council Executive Director Steve Taylor says the surprising findings were revealed in a 2004 retail market survey done for the Cattlemen's Beef Board by Freshlook Marketing.

"I was totally shocked to find out that about a third of all the rib and ribeye roasts that people buy during the whole year are purchased during that one week, right before Christmas."

Sales of standing rib roasts especially increase at this time of year because the cut makes an elegant presentation for holiday meals. Taylor says research has found that people just like beef for the holidays.

"And they associate it with celebrations. Part of it is cultural tradition from way back across the water in merry old England. But certainly a holiday roast fills the house with a pretty pleasant aroma and it symbolizes special occasions."

The Missouri Beef Industry Council has lots of holiday beef recipes, tips and last minute gift ideas at

SOURCE: Missouri Beef Industry Council.