Competing proteins to pressure beef in the US

22 July 2015

Increasing production of poultry (especially chicken) and pork in the US through 2015 and 2016 has the potential to add downward pressure to historically high beef prices in US wholesale and retail markets.

Figures from the July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show chicken production jumping 5%, to 18.37 million tonnes carcase weight (cwt) in 2015, and further to 18.78 million tonnes cwt next year. Similarly, pork production is forecast to rise 8%, to 11.15 million tonnes cwt this year, and to 11.21 million tonnes cwt in 2016.

Some of the increase in pork production will be partly offset by higher exports in 2015 and 2016, although hog and pork prices are much lower this year, and likely to be lower again in 2016. Per capita consumption of pork in the US is still forecast by the USDA to grow from 21.0kg in 2014 to 22.5kg retail weight in 2015.

Chicken exports, however, have been limited by trade restrictions placed by importing countries as a result of an outbreak of avian influenza in the US. This means there is a much larger amount of chicken available in the US market – per capita consumption is forecast to grow from 37.8kg in 2014 to 40.3kg retail weight in 2015.

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