U.S. meat production rebounds from coronavirus slowdowns

The USDA raised its estimate of red meat and poultry production from the levels it predicted after the coronavirus pandemic shut down meat plants in April and May. In its monthly WASDE report, the USDA raised its estimate of meat production by 3 billion pounds, so that per-capita consumption would average 223.8 pounds this year, up by 3.6 pounds from the June forecast.

Americans consumed a record 224.3 pounds per person of meat last year. Consumption was expected to climb by more than four pounds this year, to 227.4 pounds, before the coronavirus swept the country. In May, following outbreaks that forced slowdowns and temporary closure of some of the largest U.S. packing plants, the USDA said per-capita consumption would fall to 217.1 pounds as meat production shrank.

The meat outlook has brightened for the second month in a row, said the USDA. “The beef production forecast is raised primarily on higher cattle slaughter and heavier carcass weights. Forecast pork production is raised from last month primarily on higher expected second-half commercial slaughter. Broiler (chicken) production is raised on recent hatchery data.”

In all, USDA forecast meat production of 106 billion pounds this year, compared to its May estimate of 103 billion pounds. The USDA estimated meat production in 2021 at 107.6 billion pounds.