WASHINGTON – In 2013, combined per capita poultry and red meat consumption could drop to the lowest level since 1966 when it was 161.2 lbs. on a boneless-weight basis, stated the Dec. 20 Daily Livestock Report. The US Department of Agriculture’s forecast combined consumption is 165.6 lbs. for 2012, the Dec. 21 edition of the National Chicken Council’s Washington Report pointed out.

Continued reduced supplies of beef will be the major issue in 2013 resulting in combined consumption to fall even further and maybe below the 1973’s 162.9 lbs. – and possibly slipping below 161.2 lbs. tallied in 1966, the study stated.

The study relayed poultry and red meat consumption is declining, especially since 2007, due to:

  • Growing exports – US pork exports increased by more than 40 percent in 2008 and will set another record this year. Beef exports also increased in recent years as recovery from the 2003 bovine spongiform encephalopathy discovery occurred. Larger exports meant lower domestic availability and lower consumption.
  • Higher costs – Rapid growth of corn-based ethanol production has coincided with the downtrend in US meat and poultry consumption. The first major diversions of corn to ethanol drove feed costs higher. Producers of all species “saw floods of red ink,” the report stated. Some companies reduced output; others left the business, further cutting market supplies. “Exploding oil prices” made ethanol, and corn as a fuel feedstock, even more valuable.
  • The results of 30-40 years of government policy – The “feds have indeed” waged war on meat protein consumption for many years, the report stated.

Many non-governmental agencies opposing meat consumption for reasons ranging from the environment to animal rights to social justice have increasingly focused their budgets against meat consumption. “It is amazing that poultry and red meat consumption has held as long as it did,” the report concluded.