red meat

Lee Schulz, Extension livestock marketing economist with Iowa State University, says 2018 red meat production climbed above 100 billion pounds nationally for the first time in history.

Record levels of red meat production should continue in 2019.

Lee Schulz, Extension livestock marketing economist with Iowa State University, says 2018 production climbed above 100 billion pounds nationally for the first time in history. Meat production is up 12 percent overall since 2014, he says.

And most analysts believe the growth will continue, with production expected to increase another 5.9 percent over the next five years, according to the Food and Agricultural Policy and Research Institute.

Schulz says beef production is expected to grow 3.2 percent, with pork production up 5.4 percent over that time frame.

Per capita consumption is up 9 percent since 2014, and Schulz says that should increase another 1.5 percent through 2023.

He says the growth comes despite trade issues and tariffs.

“The product is still moving, and U.S. meat is priced very competitively and is known for its consistency and quality,” Schulz says. “The exchange rate is also favorable despite the tariffs, although the price and value of the product has been affected.”

He says growth in beef production will be impacted by crop and weather predictions, making it difficult to forecast. On the hog side, Schulz says most expansion plans that were put into place a few years ago are still moving forward, despite low hog prices.

“The supply side is already bid into the futures market,” he says, adding he expects demand to remain strong in 2019.

Most analysts expect pork production to reach record levels in 2019. The USDA forecasts 5 percent growth, which comes on top of 3 percent growth this year.

Beef production is also expected to be up another 3 percent in 2019 — another record-setting figure.

Erin Borror, economist with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says there is some uncertainty about the exact number for growth in 2019, but it looks certain that pork production will set another record.

Tariffs on U.S. pork have cut into the value of the product, Borror says. She says the 50 percent tariff in China has effectively shut down the export market, with exports down 45 percent since they went into effect.

Stiff tariffs implemented by Mexico on all pork cuts have also severely impacted the pork industry.

“We are exporting at year-ago levels still, but at significantly lower values,” Borror says. “We are seeing that in Mexico with picnics and hams and variety meats. It’s costing $8 to $10 per head, which is pretty significant.”

She says the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which goes into effect Dec. 30, will further put U.S. exports at a competitive disadvantage. An agreement between Japan and the European Union will also hurt U.S. exports.

Borror says African swine fever concerns in China and Europe could also impact exports. The catastrophic disease was recently found in swine herds in eastern Europe.

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.