(The Center Square) – Consumers continue to put meat on the table, not backing down on barbecues over high prices.
How long that will last with inflation is hard to know, Tasha Bunting, director of commodity and livestock programs at the Illinois Farm Bureau, said, calling it the million-dollar question.
Right now, the Illinois Farm Bureau finds consumer demand stable across the beef, pork and poultry industries, which is good news for all involved.
“Consumers are always looking for ways to access a wholesome nutritious product, and protein definitely fits the bill,” she told The Center Square. “Luckily we are seeing a strong consumer demand for beef, pork and poultry.”
Supply is keeping pace with America’s appetite for meat, she said, but drought conditions out west are being monitored.
“Right now, our beef herd, because of the continuing drought out west, is continuing to shrink,” she said.
Another challenge she cited is that pork herd levels may have been underestimated.
Overall, she is hopeful the demand for meat will survive inflation, but “time will tell,” she said.
“The market right now is a little unpredictable because of all of the other external pressures that are out there,” Bunting said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports in its Food Price Outlook for 2023 that beef and veal prices are expected to rise 0.7% for the year, but poultry could overshadow them with a 3.1% spike. Meanwhile, pork prices are likely to drop by 2.5% for the year, the outlook summary said.
Consumers may shop for cheaper cuts like hamburger rather than rib-eye, but right now they are still investing in nutrition.