WASHINGTON -- High feed prices, the economic recession and drought in the Southern Plains of the United States have combined to cut into producer returns and lowered production incentives in the livestock sector during the past several years. As a result of declines in meat production plus strong meat exports, consumer meat prices have increased and per capita consumption in the US has decreased, according to the Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture.

Annual average consumption of red meat and poultry is predicted to decrease from the more than 221 lbs. per capita recorded from 2004-07 to a projection of less than 200 lbs. from 2012-14. However, with feed costs anticipated to decline from recent highs, improved net returns in the livestock sector provide economic incentives for expansion of meat and poultry production for the rest of the decade, ERS relays.

By 2021, as production increases, per capita consumption of red meat and poultry is expected to increase to about 213 lbs.