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“In our domestic market, total meat consumption will increase as the population grows, but it’s going to be tough to see growth in per capita meat consumption," says John Anderson, deputy chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “I think there are a lot of consumer preference and cultural issues behind that — people just don’t eat meat like they once did," he said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.
PHILLIP TURNER, from left, Leakesville, Miss.; Louis Breaux, Kiln, Miss.; and Pat and Juanita Byrd, Sandhill, Miss., were among those attending the annual meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.
Meat export outlook
Broilers should grow “fairly steadily,” Anderson says, and pork exports as well. “We’ll probably be exporting 18 percent to 20 percent of broiler production, 22 percent to 23 percent of pork production, and 8.5 percent to 9 percent of beef production.
“We used to could count on 3 percent to 5 percent increase in broiler production every single year, just like clockwork. That has sort of broken down in last six to seven years as they’ve dealt with high costs of production, as well as some pretty serious export market challenges. I think the sector is finding its footing again and getting back close to its 3 percent year over year expansion figure.”
U.S. pork production for 2014 is forecast to be up about 2.6 percent, following basically flat production in 2013, he says. “The industry is trying to get back in expansion mode. They’ve had some problems with viral diarrhea, which has has slowed expansion in 2013. If they get that under control in 2014, we might see more like a 3 percent increase in production. But if it really blows up and causes a lot of problems in nurseries, it may be hard to hit the 2.6 percent forecast.
“They’ve done a great job of managing it from this point, and I think the expectation is that they will continue to learn how to manage it. There certainly is interest in expansion in the pork sector.”
Fed cattle prices could see a late spring high close to $140, Anderson says. “That’s pretty stout. It would be a record price level, if we actually get there. If we have a normal seasonal year from now to spring in the cash market, that’s about what the market is saying.
“But I do think there’s some downside in this. I think the wholesale beef market has to get better before that price is realistic. If we see this market start to break out to a new level, these prices could start to look realistic. But if we see wholesale beef continue to struggle, if we continue to see pressure building from increased production of other meats, and competing meat prices keep a lid on wholesale beef prices, I think we could be down toward the lower end of the range, the low to mid-$130s. The wholesale beef market is going to be the thing to watch."