It’s no secret that Americans love their meat. In fact, a recent study by the NPD Group-Chicago, found that more than 60 percent of Americans eat animal protein in a typical day.
Recently, however, many meat-loving Americans have experienced sticker shock when they visit the meat counter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts beef and veal prices to increase by 8-9 percent by the end of 2014, compared with 2013. Pork prices could rise by between 7.5 and 8.5 percent.
So, what’s behind the increase? There are several contributing factors, including:
- Effects of drought on cattle herds in the plains and western United States. When drought hit many major cattle-producing states in 2011, the grazing space for cattle greatly decreased. This forced many farmers to sell their animals to be processed. The high cost of feed for cattle further contributed to smaller herds. This decreased the supply of beef available, while demand has remained high. Herd sizes have been slow to rebound and are currently at historic lows, similar to those in the 1950s. That’s because it can take 18 months for a calf to reach market weight.
- Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv). This pig virus is responsible for millions of piglet deaths in the past year. Hog farms in more than 40 states were affected by the illness that is most fatal to newborn pigs. Farmers tried to compensate by raising their animals to heavier weights, but only partially compensated for the losses. Hog supplies are now back on the rise, but pork prices will continue to be higher until supplies get closer to meeting demand. PEDv poses no risk to other animals, humans or food safety.
- Rising demand for protein from U.S. consumers. The protein power movement is gaining traction here in the U.S. which means greater demand. This can be seen in reports from companies like BB& Capital Markets and NPD Group and in the menus at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, KFC and Panera.
- Rising middle classes in Asia, Africa and South America. A growing number of people around the world are eating more meat today than in years past. As the global population and individual incomes rise, so, too, does meat demand.
Over on the CommonGround Nebraska blog today is a great, meat-filled recipe that is budget friendly, easy to make and kids love it. Enjoy your weekend and whip up these Kid-Friendly Beefy Spaghetti Cups!
Have additional questions about how meat gets from the farm to your table? Click here to learn more about the farmers who raise beef, pork and turkey.