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Beef Consumption Continues Higher, but is There Trouble Ahead?
Michigan Ag Connection - 06/07/2023

Supply chains, prices and consumer preferences have been erratic in recent memory. Most often, we hear about soaring prices — and occasionally, price plunges — but consumption trends, especially over several years, are frequently overlooked.

For beef, the long-run story has been a decades-long decline in per capita consumption (Figure 1). In the 1970s, domestic consumption ranged from 80 to 95 pounds per capita. To be more precise, the annual average for the decade was 86 pounds.

Fast forwarding to today, consumption for the most recent decade (2013-2022) averaged just 57 pounds and dipped to an annual low of 54 pounds in 2015.

Despite all the recent shocks, beef consumption has trended higher in recent years. In 2022, consumption is estimated at 59.1 pounds, the highest since 2010. From 2000-2019, beef consumption averaged 65.4 pounds per capita, 8.6 pounds (15%) higher than what was observed in the most recent decade (2013-2022).

Poultry and pork consumption trends

Figure 2 plots the steady increase in poultry consumption over the last six decades. During the 1970s, U.S. consumption averaged 50.6 pounds per capita. In 2022, consumption hit a record 111.6 pounds. Despite the upward consumption trend, poultry wasn’t immune to the Great Recession dip.

With a steady consumption trend, the U.S. has consumed around 50 pounds of pork annually since the 1970s. There have been ups (the early 1970s) and downs (mid-1970s and 2010-2014), but the overall trend is flat and fairly stable.


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