Meat supplies set record in 2002; supplies should decline this year


MANHATTAN, Kan. – Meat is still the main entree on U.S. consumers’ tables.

“U.S. consumers ate more meat in 2002 than at any time in history,” said James Mintert, agricultural economist.

“Total per capita meat consumption of all red meat and poultry by U.S. consumers is expected to approach 219 pounds [retail weight] during 2002, which is a new record,” he said.

Sharp contrast. The figure is in sharp contrast with 1960, when total meat consumption averaged 166 pounds per person and 1980 when per capita consumption reached 195 pounds.

In 1990, consumption hit 199 pounds.

“So, during 2002, Americans consumed about 32 percent more meat than in 1960, 12 percent more than in 1980, and 10 percent more than in 1990,” Mintert said.

Even distribution. The larger consumption was far from evenly distributed among all livestock industry sectors, however.

“Virtually all of the growth in meat consumption over the last four decades has been in poultry,” Mintert said.

Chicken [broiler] consumption on a retail-weight basis shot up to about 80 pounds in 2002, a 240-percent increase since 1960 when consumption was 23.5 pounds per capita.

Little change. In contrast, U.S. beef consumption changed little over the same time period, rising just 6 percent and pork consumption fell 14 percent.

The increase in meat consumption during 2002 was not good news for U.S. livestock producers.

Record consumption occurred because domestic meat supplies were record large.

And the surprisingly large increase in meat supplies helped drive livestock prices lower in 2002, resulting in big financial losses for cattle feeders and hog producers, the economist said.

During that period, U.S. consumers’ per capita meat consumption rose about 2.5 percent over 2001 levels.

Respective increases. The increase in total meat consumption stemmed from increases in beef, pork and chicken consumption of 1.9 percent, 1.6 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, compared to 2001.

Tighter supplies of U.S. livestock in 2003 should support livestock and poultry prices.

“U.S. beef supplies [net of imports and exports] in 2003 are expected to decline about 2 percent compared to 2002, which should drop domestic beef consumption back to about the same level as 2001,” the economist said.

Dipping below. Pork supplies are also expected to dip below 2002 levels – possibly by as much as 2 percent, he added.

“Finally, U.S. consumers are not expected to see as much chicken in the meat case as they did in 2002, as chicken producers start to reduce production,” Mintert said.

“Moreover, chicken exports could also improve, although they are not likely to rebound back to levels seen before Russia initially banned U.S. chicken imports.

“The bottom line is that domestic chicken consumption could actually fall about 1 percent below 2002’s, which would mark just the third time in the last two decades that U.S. chicken consumption fell below the prior year.”


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