Meat, dairy, egg production expected to rise through 2021

Published on March 15, 2012
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

Domestic red meat and poultry production is expected to decline through 2013 but increase overall by 2021.

The Department of Agriculture published in February projections that indicate U.S. beef, pork, and poultry producers will increase exports and gradually increase production, even though U.S. citizens' mean yearly meat consumption is expected to remain lower than previous highs. The publication, "USDA Agricultural Projections to 2021," is available at

The recession, increased costs, and drought pushed livestock owners to reduce red meat and poultry production starting in 2012, the department reported.

Chart: U.S. Meat Exports

"The projected rise in U.S. meat and poultry exports over the next decade reflects the resumption of global economic growth, a depreciation of the U.S. dollar, and continued foreign demand for selected cuts and parts from the large U.S. market," the report states.

The U.S. beef cow inventory is expected to rise from about 30 million head in early 2012 to 34 million in 2021, when the overall cattle inventory is projected to increase from 91 million to 97 million. The hog inventory is expected to rise from about 66 million in 2012 to 73 million in 2021.

Turkey and chicken production are also expected to increase, the report states. Federally inspected slaughter of young chickens is projected to produce about 36 billion pounds of meat in 2012 and about 42 billion in 2021. Turkey production is expected to increase from 5.8 billion pounds of meat to 6.6 billion in the same period. Egg production also is expected to rise from about 7.6 billion dozen in 2012 to 8 billion in 2021.

U.S. dairies are also projected to produce more milk with fewer cows as technologic and genetic developments increase mean production per cow, the report states. The number of cows is projected to decline from 9.2 million to 8.9 million, and production per cow is projected to rise from 21,600 pounds annually to 25,400 annually.

Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, also expects that a smaller number of dairy cows will produce as much milk as or more milk than the cows on dairies today.

"This has been pretty standard over the past 50 years as the national herd size has dropped as production per cow has increased," Dr. Riddell said.

Dr. Riddell hopes the USDA is correctly predicting the increase in the beef cow inventory over the current low population. He said drought during the past year was particularly tough on some beef producers.

Demand for food animal practice veterinarians may decline as meat and dairy producers consolidate, but that will coincide with retirements among current veterinarians, Dr. Riddell said.

"I believe that there are some indicators that the current supply pipeline will be able to provide for retirement and cattle herd size changes," he said. "This does not, however, completely address the shortage of rural mixed animal practitioners."

Mean meat consumption among U.S. residents is expected to decline to 198 pounds annually in 2013, down from about 221 pounds annually in 2004-2007, the report states. Consumption is also projected to remain lower than the mean during the 1980s and 1990s, although it is expected to rise to 213 pounds annually by 2021. Per capita poultry consumption is projected to reach a record high of 106 pounds annually.