Americans are set to eat more meat in 2018 than ever before, according to USDA projections.
Bloomberg News reported this week that the average US consumer will eat 222.2 pounds (100.8 kilos) of red meat and poultry this year, surpassing a record set in 2004.
At the same time, US domestic beef production is set to surpass a record 100 billion pounds for the first time, as livestock owners expand their herds on the back of cheap feed grain.
“If you look at the items that consumers say they want more of in their diet, protein tops the list,” Houston-based food industry advisor David Portalatin told Bloomberg.
Contributing to expectations of higher consumption are cheaper prices – chick breast prices in November 2017 were the lowest in five years, and steak and ham prices were also easing.
‘there will be higher plant consumption, but beef will always be king’
Bloomberg notes that the anticipated increase comes as meat substitutes gain attention, on the back of claims carnivorous diets impact negatively on health, animal welfare and the environment.
Quoting a US bank report, the article said protein from plants, insects or cultured meat is “a top food trend to watch”, however, the category is not expected to significantly dent animal product sales “just yet”.
“Ten years from now, there will be higher plant consumption, but beef will always be king,” Epic Burger founder David Friedman told the news agency.
“People are always looking to put more protein into their diets. But they want high quality and transparency in the food they’re eating.”