A new federal food forecast contains foul news for Iowa cattle producers, but encouragement for those who raise pork and poultry. The U.S.D.A. predicts Americans will eat much less meat in 2013 due to skyrocketing costs. Shale Shagam, an agency livestock analyst, says the average person will eat just over 200 pounds of red meat and poultry in the year ahead.
“We look at beef to be the big decline, down about 1.3 pounds to about 56.1 pounds per capita,” Shagam says. “Pork will be up about 0.3 of a pound to about 46.1 pounds, while broilers will be up about a half a pound to about 80.9 pounds per capita during 2013.”
That’s the lowest expected meat consumption rate since 1991. The extended drought in Iowa and across much of the country last year is now translating to much higher prices in grocery store meat cases.
Shagam says, “We can expect to see records in terms of our retail prices for choice beef, again, a record for our broiler price and probably about a similar price on the pork side.” The federal report predicts a boost in beef imports this year, while about 11-percent less U.S. beef will be exported.
“We expect imports to increase about 16% to 2.6 billion pounds,” Shagam says. “A lot of that is tied to the strong demand for processing grade beef in the United States.” Iowa is the nation’s number-one pork producer. The state’s top commodity is corn, followed by pork, soybeans and cattle.