Pork is set to surpass beef production next year amid herd rebuilding, the American Farm Bureau says. If it does, AFBF economist Bob Young says it will mark the first time since the 1950s that there's more pork than beef.
According to Young, several groups and the USDA have forecasted dominant pork production, and the "situation looks like it's going to continue for at least the next five-six-seven-eight years or so out in front of us so entering into new territory here," he said in an AFBF radio feature.
Drought and higher feed prices drove beef herd numbers down over the last few years. Rebuilding, however, will take some time, Young says, noting that it takes longer to bring more animals back into a breeding herd than it would for poultry.
"Cattle are not like chickens. It just takes a long time for us to bring those additional animals back on, to bring supply back up," Young said. "We've been pulling this herd down for a long, long time. It's going to take us quite a while I think to get those supplies turned around and actually growing again."
The cost structure for popular proteins may be changing, too.
"I think pork and chicken both are going to end up growing noticeably in 2015 and will work toward trying to keep meat prices down. But beef prices I think are going to continue to be maybe not quite as strong just because of this competition from the other meats but continue to be some of the strongest of all three meats," Young said.
According to Young, the real challenge is going to be what happens at the consumer level.
"There's going to be a lot more competition for that space on a consumer plate as we move forward," he said.