Industry set to make more meat, more money in 2018

Meatingplace, By Rita Jane Gabbett on 12/27/2017

The U.S. meat industry is expected to produce 6 percent more pork, 6 percent more beef and 2 percent more poultry in the coming year, predicts Sterling Marketing principal John Nalivka.

During a webinar presented by the North American Meat Institute, sponsored by Marel and hosted by Meatingplace, Nalivka also predicted positive packer margins and continued low feed prices for livestock producers.

The two wild cards will be export demand and labor, as the future of various trade agreements with major markets like Mexico, Canada and Japan are uncertain and a strong economy could continue to increase competition for potential meat plant workers.

Nalivka expects the U.S. cattle herd to be up 3 percent going into the New Year, with cattle inventories tapering off some by 2019. During 2018, he expects beef slaughter capacity to run at about 91 percent.

For hog inventories, he predicted another 3 percent increase as hog producers fill the demands of new slaughter plants. Overall, he sees hog slaughter running at about 92 percent of capacity next year. He expects pork exports to close 2017 up 7 percent and predicts another 6 percent increase in exports next year.

“Expect good margins for both pork and beef into 2018,” said Nalivka, adding, “The whole issue will be on the demand side.”