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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Beef Demand Stays High

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Despite the mayor of New York City telling all New Yorkers to limit beef consumption and go vegan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, demand and consumption of beef is staying strong. This just proves how misguided and out of touch he really is.

All fresh beef retail prices in March were $7.23 per pound, which is unchanged from February and down 1.8 percent from a year ago. 

The past few years have seen strong beef demand despite high prices, which tells the story people want to eat beef. During 2021-22, beef consumption was the highest per capita since 2010 at 58.9 pounds annually. 

In 2020, all-fresh beef retail prices averaged $7.30 a pound, the highest on record. The highest monthly price ever was in October of 2021 at $7.55 a pound. 

I would guess this was partly caused by the packers because slaughter was high and the price of live cattle was low.

Consumers continue to buy middle meats, such as tenderloins and ribeyes, with demand up 12 to 15 percent year-over-year. Surprisingly, brisket demand is weaker compared to last year. This is probably caused by higher costs due to demand. 

As usual, the demand for hamburger keeps increasing, and because of this high demand, the price is rising as well.

Since meat is a commodity, prices rise and fall with the flow of supply and demand. Currently, demand remains high, and the supply of beef is going down. 

This year, total cattle slaughter is down 2.9 percent, and carcass weights are lower. Fat steer slaughter is down 2.3 percent year-over-year, and fat heifer slaughter is up 0.4 percent.

While 2.3 and 0.4 percent don’t seem like a lot, bear in mind, last week 622,000 head of cattle were processed compared to 664,000 a year ago. This means 510 million pounds of beef was processed last week compared to 551 million pounds processed a year ago. 

The lower number of head slaughtered and lower carcass weights are causing a national reduction of 41 million pounds of beef a week, which will always result in higher prices at the beef counter.

A recent peer reviewed edition of the scientific journal Animal Frontiers, published in the middle of April, confirms meat’s critical role in society. Building on scientific debate and evidence developed through the October 2022 International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat, hosted by Teagasc in Dublin, Ireland, some good information surfaced. 

Some of the key findings were plant-based production does not only lead to human-edible food, but also large amounts of inedible biomass; livestock are the most viable option to return nutrients captured in this biomass back into the natural cycle, while producing high-quality, human-edible food and the outcome of unintended economic, social and environmental consequences when abandoning livestock could prove catastrophic to the already shaky ecological balance of the resource cycles and the remaining natural capital.

Other findings included sustainable livestock will also provide solutions for the additional challenge of today, to stay within the safe operating zone of Earth’s boundaries; human civilization has been built on livestock from initiating the Bronze Age more than 5,000 years ago toward being the bedrock of food security for modern societies today and lastly, human-managed livestock systems must be a part of the solution to environmental sustainability. 

Has anybody noticed most of the people buying farmland today want everyone to be vegans? Is it all about money?

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