Total 2019 meat production in the U.S. is currently projected to reach another record level of 103.3 billion pounds, up 1.3 percent year over year. However, per capita meat consumption may decrease slightly to 217.3 pounds from the 2018 level of 218.6 pounds. The decrease in per capita meat consumption reflects improved meat trade with projected decreases in meat imports and increased meat exports along with normal population growth. Total 2019 meat imports are projected to decrease to 4.3 billion pounds, the lowest since 2013, with record meat exports of 17.4 billion pounds. Total meat includes beef, pork, broiler, turkey, other chicken, veal and lamb.
Record per capita meat consumption occurred in 2004 at 221.9 pounds. At that time lower population, higher meat imports, and meat exports less than half of today’s level were sufficient to increase per capita consumption despite lower total meat production in 2004 which, at 85.1 billion pounds, was 17.6 percent smaller than today.
Beef production in 2019 is projected to increase to another record at 27.2 billion pounds, up about 1.1 percent over last year. Weather impacts are holding carcass weights well below year ago levels so far this year and annual average carcass weights are projected to only increase slightly year over year. Cattle slaughter is projected to increase about one percent year over year. With beef imports projected to decrease and beef exports expected to increase again in 2019, per capita beef consumption is expected to decrease to 56.8 pounds (retail basis), down from 57.1 pounds one year ago.
The March Hogs and Pigs report from USDA-NASS showed continued growth in the U.S. pork industry with year over year increases in all hog, breeding hog and market hog inventories. Pork production in 2019 is projected to increase about 2.9 percent to 27.1 billion pounds. Per capita pork consumption is expected to increase slightly from last year to 51.0 pounds per capita. An improved pork trade balance is projected with year over year decreases in pork imports and significant increases in pork exports. Higher projected pork exports are partly due to anticipated increases in pork imports in China as a result of losses in Chinese pork production due to African Swine Fever.
Broiler production estimates have been trimmed from earlier expectations with current projections of a 1.1 percent increase in broiler production in 2019 to 42.6 billion pounds. Per capita broiler consumption is projected to decrease fractionally year over year to 92.0 pounds in 2019 with increased broiler exports taking up most of the increase in production. Turkey production and consumption are both projected to decrease in 2019. Total poultry, including broiler, turkey and other chicken production is projected to be fractionally higher in 2019.
These projections reflect estimates and analysis by the Livestock Marketing Information Center and me. Of course, the estimates are likely to change as market conditions change and new information becomes available. Many factors may impact meat production and consumption this year including weather, disease, trade, U.S. and global macroeconomic conditions, feed markets and others.