Trade Wars Boost Pork, Beef Supplies

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Nov 19, 2018

U.S. consumption of pork and beef is expected to rise as prices fall due to trade wars that increase domestic supplies and induce consumers to trade up from chicken.

According to USDA estimates, pork consumption will rise 4.3% and beef 2.6% next year, compared with only 1.2% for chicken. Trade wars with Mexico, China and other nations started by the Trump administration have expanded the domestic supply of beef and pork, depressing prices: Lean hog futures are down 28% from this year’s peak.

Both retailers and restaurants are reacting by ramping up marketing of beef and pork, and deemphasizing chicken. Reuters reports that Kraft Heinz and Ahold Delhaize, owner of Food Lion and Stop & Shop grocery stores, have both cut prices on bacon. Meanwhile, quick-service restaurants released more than 50 new hamburger products in September, while cutting back on new chicken dishes.

Meantime, chicken processors are taking a hit. A spokesperson for the National Chicken Council told Reuters that he expects the industry to break even or lose money in the last quarter of this year.