- U.S. per capita meat consumption increased by almost 5% in 2015, the largest increase in 40 years, according to a new meat industry report from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group.
- Growth in consumption is expected to taper off this year through 2018, while U.S. protein production is anticipated to grow at a rate of 2.5% annually.
- As the dollar strengthens and demand slows over the next few years, there could be a large impact on meat prices, producers' margins, potential company divestments, and sales and acquisitions in the industry.
Protein has become a major driver for health-related food trends, giving rise in recent years to categories like artisanal beef jerky and breakfast sandwiches. Meat snacks have been a popular segment that has likely provided a boost to meat consumption overall.
Potential concerns have surrounded red meat and processed meat, ranging from heart disease linked to saturated fat to cancer. The World Health Organization made the cancer claim last year, which the North American Meat Institute called a "dramatic and alarmist overreach." And though meat producers had worried the federal dietary guidelines would make sweeping anti-red meat recommendations, they did not.
Rabobank's report found that beef consumption was flat last year and didn't contribute to 2015's meat consumption growth. But the USDA reported earlier this year that beef consumption was on the rise for the first time since 2006, with an expected half-pound increase this year compared to 2015. Previously, beef consumption had been steadily falling, having been replaced by chicken as the top consumed meat in America decades ago.
Still, protein-based product launches fell to 265 in 2015 from a high of 481 in 2013, according to Mintel. That's even though 38% of U.S. adults indicate they want to add more protein to their diets, per a study by Natural Marketing Institute and Informa. But proteins are not just meat. Plant-based proteins have become increasingly popular as functional ingredients for a range of products, including plant-based meat.