QUINCY, Illinois – The “but” is a pork butt – and it’s a big one.
The US pork industry and pork producers are well positioned to be profitable and succeed over the next several years – with a few âbuts,â according to a well-known pork industry economist and analyst.
âThe fact that we held on isn’t the worst thing that could happen anyway,â said Steve Meyer, analyst at Kerns and Associates, based in Ames, Iowa.
One of the surprises for Meyer and the American pork industry has been brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
âIt’s been a really good race for demand for pork and a lot of us weren’t expecting it. If you had told me in March 2020, when we started shutting down most of our economy, that the demand for pork would increase, I would have told you you were crazy, âMeyer said as he virtually appeared in front. an audience in 2021. Pig conference of the Veterinary Service of Carthage.
With more diners cooking at home due to restaurant closings, shoppers âdiscoveredâ pork and were able to make price and value comparisons that they wouldn’t do in a restaurant.
âPeople buying pork from a retail grocery store was different. They had never done this before and many had never done this comparison of value between pork, beef and chicken, âsaid Meyer, who also highlighted one of the areas where the industry is in the spotlight. dragged.
âThey couldn’t do that in a restaurant because in most cases you can’t compare pork to beef and chicken on a menu for lunch and dinner because pork usually isn’t there. If you buy a breakfast, the pork is pretty much the only thing there, so you still can’t make those value comparisons that they can make so easily when they walk into a grocery store, âMeyer said.
The data points to another bright spot for the industry: real meat isn’t going away anytime soon.
âLooks like Americans are going to eat meat,â Meyer said.
He said predictions made, including by him, over a decade ago that Americans would eat less meat were wrong.
âWe thought that in 2006-2007, when we hit record total per capita consumption in the United States, at around 220 pounds, and then it started to go down, some experts, including myself, said that we will never go back to 220 pounds. Too many bad things are happening, with cultural changes and meatless Mondays. I don’t think it was as early as 2007, but vegetarianism and veganism was. Now we’re looking at fake meat and all those kinds of challenges, but it looks like Americans will eat 220 pounds of total meat and poultry protein – if we get it for them at a good price, âhe said.
And speaking of non-meat products, Meyer suggested that the panic around them might be exaggerated.
âOne might ask, what kind of impact will the Impossible Burger and other protein substitutes have on meat consumption? I’m pretty optimistic about this because I don’t think these products are for people who eat meat. They are to some extent, but they are primarily aimed at non-meat eaters. I don’t see anything in the data that will tell us that we have a significant impact on the amount of meat Americans will eat, âhe said.
Even with the good news, Meyer added these “buts”.
âIf we’re going to continue with this kind of production growth and these kinds of opportunities to increase production on your farms, we’re going to have to have that kind of export growth. This is going to be the key, âhe said.
The second âbutâ is one that can escape the control of producers.
âThe other is preventing one of those major disruptions that could stop all of this in its tracks. It made the news, with African swine fever being as close as the Dominican Republic. We have been there before. We had classical swine fever in the early 1980s and it was eradicated without a problem. But we’re in a kind of heightened risk here. With African swine fever being so close to our shores, we are all well aware of it. It could be ASF. It could be foot-and-mouth disease. Any of them would result in a significant shift in the trajectory that we see here, âMeyer said.