CattleFax Chief Executive Officer Randy Blach says U.S. cattle herd expansion has slowed to a crawl, with most of the growth now in the industry’s rear view mirror. His comments to those attending the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting earlier this week in Denver were based on the July 1 USDA cattle inventory report showing the nation’s beef cow inventory virtually unchanged from a year earlier, while the number of replacement heifers held back was lower.
Blach said record beef, pork and poultry supplies are weighing on the market. For that reason and with record meat consumption expected next year, he said it’s critical for export markets to be opened and trade policy questions answered by the Trump administration.
The good news, according to Blach, is that consumers have positively responded to a 50% increase in the amount of Prime and Choice beef produced over the past 15 years. He said beef has captured an additional 7% of the market share for meat spending from poultry and pork.
Blach said the increase in quality hasn’t hurt beef’s affordability. He calculates the average U.S. consumer works only 12 minutes to be able to pay for one pound of Choice beef.