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KIMBERLY – There will be plenty of meats available for consumers through the remainder of 2018 and probably well into 2019, according to the latest analysis of the production outlook for beef, pork, and poultry in the United States.

Lots of numbers to document that prediction were shared by University of Wisconsin – River Falls agricultural economist and commodity marketing specialist Brenda Boetel at the Extension Service's semi-annual farm management update.

While producers of these meats, which are also referred to as a source of diet protein, are heartened by the generally good economy and consumer confidence, they are concerned about the prospects for exports on several fronts and about what likely dire effects the high production volumes and the risks on the horizon for their export markets will have on prices, Boetel pointed out.

Starting with poultry (mainly broiler chickens and turkeys), Boetel noted that 2018 will be the 4th consecutive year of record high production. Poultry already accounts for 51 percent of the meat disappearance in the United States, she indicated.

Likewise, after a 2.1 percent or one pound per capita increase in 2017 to an average of 51 pounds, pork production is expected to jump by another 4 percent during 2018, Boetel observed. This would be the 3rd consecutive year of record pork production.

Beef Bonanza

Beef production is growing even faster than both poultry and pork and will also set a production record in 2018 with some 11.729 million cattle on feed as of April 1 – up by 7 percent from a year earlier, Boetel reported. She predicted, however, that there will not be a strong incentive to cull beef cows before the end of 2020 at the earliest, meaning that year to year production increases will likely continue into 2022.

Despite the production increases, Boetel explained that the United States continues to import meats for making hamburgers while exporting the higher value meat cuts. The key countries for beef exports in 2017 were Mexico (38 percent), Japan (17 percent), South Korea (12 percent), Hong Kong and China (total of 11 percent), and Canada (7 percent).

From the perspective of livestock producers, there is not only strong competition between the three meat categories in the marketplace but also a significant dependence on the export market, Boetel remarked. For that reason, she stated that the fallout from trade disputes or wars with countries that are the leading buyers of meats from the United States will be crucial to the fate of the domestic meat industry.

During 2017, exports accounted for 22.25 percent of the pork production in the United States, followed by 16 percent of the poultry and 11 percent of the beef.

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