Consumers developing hunger for meat again

Much is made of the growth of vegetarianism in North America, but domestic meat consumption data indicates that most people in Canada and the United States still have a taste for beef, pork and poultry.

Jim Long of Genesus Genetics, a pig genetics company, often has interesting observations about the pork industry around the world.

In a recent post, he noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s red meat and poultry disappearance report projected that domestic meat disappearance would rise to 88.751 billion pounds, up four billion lb. from 2015.

That is great news for anyone who works in the meat and livestock business, including Long.

“Anyone who lives in the fantasy world that vegetarianism is taking over needs to give their head a shake. Meat lovers are ever increasing their consumption,” Long wrote.

On a per person basis, red meat and poultry disappearance at the retail level is projected to rise to 217.8 lb., up 3.2 lb. from 2016 and up 6.7 from 2015. Disappearance has a specific meaning, but for our purposes it means consumption.

About 10 years ago, total red meat and poultry consumption in the United States on a per person basis was going through a downturn, but it started rising again in 2014.

In 2017, red meat and poultry are almost tied in what Americans eat.

Of the total in 2017, Americans consumed 57.1 lb. of beef and 50.8 lb. of pork for a red meat total of 107.9.

Total poultry consumption was 107.4 lb.: 90.4 lb. of chicken and 17 lb. of turkey.

And bringing up the rear was lamb and mutton at just one lb. a year.

Beef has lost a lot of ground in consumption over recent decades, but that was picked up by poultry.

In 1990, beef domestic consumption was 67.7 lb., about 10 lb. more than today, and chicken was only 59.5 lb., about 30 lb. less than today.

However, while there has been a shift in the types of meat consumed, the total amount has risen. All red meat and poultry U.S. consumption in 1990 was 199 lb., 19 lb. less than in the current year.

The latest numbers for Canada are for 2015 so it is hard to know if the rebuilding of meat consumption seen in the U.S. is happening here, but the experience on either side of the border is usually similar.

In recent years, the meat industry has been forced to address rising consumer concerns for animal welfare and health.

Also, development of plant-based protein products with taste and texture similar to real meat can’t be ignored. Maple Leaf Foods spent $140 million this year buying Lightlife Foods, a leading maker of plant-based protein foods in the U.S.

Nevertheless, livestock and meat producers have to be cheered by these domestic consumption figures, which show the home audience is still captivated by the unmistakable flavour of real meat.

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