In 2018, U.S. consumers are expected to have access to the largest meat supply ever. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects this year to be the highest per capita quantity ever recorded, with total supplies of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey reaching close to 223 pounds per person.
The biggest driving factor behind the projection is the forecasted increase in meat production. Beef production is expected to increase more than six percent, pork production is anticipated to rise more than five percent, and chicken is projected to increase by two percent.
The 2018 production forecast for beef was increased last month by 170 million pounds, to a total of 27.8 billion pounds. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service will be releasing the semiannual cattle report on January 31 which will provide estimates and insight on the number of cattle potentially available for placement during 2018.
The forecast for pork production is about 27 billion pounds. Exports in November were five percent higher than the previous year, even as shipments to Mexico decreased. The expansion of hog production is being driven by larger inventories and better production from each animal. Increased demand from processors for more hogs is also contributing to continued expansion in the industry.
Production and weights were up again for chicken in November. Production was about three percent higher than the previous year with a total of 3.4 billion pounds. The forecast for 2018 was raised 175 million pounds, illustrating the annual growth of just over two percent. Bird weight expectations also increased after the previous year experienced no growth in weight.
The overall meat supply available to Americans does not constitute any indication of pricing. The figures are based entirely on overall supplies and do not include nonfood uses of livestock meat products. Supplies also do not offer any clues as to how much meat and poultry will ultimately be consumed.