US firms should produce a staggering 103 billion pounds (lb) of meat and poultry this year, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Driven by strong global demand for beef and pork, 2018 should be another period of year-on-year growth for the US – one of the world’s animal protein giants.
While the USDA’s measure is only a forecast, it acts as a sound barometer for an anticipated rise in domestic production of beef, pork, poultry and lamb.
Beef and pork - up, up and away
Big cattle cutters, like Tyson Foods, Cargill and JBS, should no doubt lead the charge as yearly beef production rises by nearly 5% to 27 billion lb. Pork, too, is expected to enjoy a near 5% annual increase, with meat output set to hit 26 billion lb by the close of the year.
While production of pork and beef is outweighed by poultry – total production could reach 48bn lb this year – the strong growth in exports for the former proteins should give factories across the country enough demand to supply record amounts of animal protein for this millennium.
Higher international sales every month last year saw US beef exports rise 14% above 2016 levels, according to the USDA. The government body said its forecast for 2018 had been revised based on the “current pace of growth and strong global demand”.
Mexican, Japanese and Colombian demand for a range of different pork cuts – from belly and bacon to offal – not only maximised carcase value for US meatpackers, but also helped to drive a steady rise in exports. The bonus is this: prices for the US fourth quarter are expected to be around 20% above last year’s figures, averaging up to US$45 per carcase weight.
Domestic sheep and lamb production, not a forte of the Americans, may rise more modestly after prices plummeted in October and November.
An opportunity exists for the likes of New Zealand, Australia and the UK, though, as the USDA expects imports to rise at “record levels”.