CoBank: Rising Meat Prices Will Test Consumer Demand

Dan Beef, Cattle, Livestock, Marketing, Pork, Poultry, Sheep-Goats


U.S. consumer demand for meat at the retail level remains exceptionally strong despite rising prices caused by increased production costs and supply chain challenges. A new CoBank report says that may change soon.

Once the full effect of increased costs of producer price inflation shows up in the retail meat case, demand will get tested. “Retail meat prices will remain high throughout 2022,” says Brian Earnest, lead animal protein economist with CoBank. “The sharply higher costs for feed, energy, and labor haven’t fully impacted wholesale and retail meat prices, but that will soon change.” He also says as consumers notice their dollar isn’t going as far as it once did, they may trade down at the meat case.


Chicken could be the primary beneficiary. The combined cutout values of beef, pork, and chicken have climbed 22 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of this year, so consumers will see higher meat prices.

(From the National Association of Farm Broadcasters)

Over the past two years, ever-changing consumer behavior has buffeted the food sector. Initially consumers responded to the pandemic by stocking up on grocery shelf staples and avoiding sit down dining. As COVID outbreaks ebbed and flowed, so has consumer restaurant spending. But, during the entire time retail meat demand has remained steadfast. These unprecedented changes in spending patterns have proved extraordinarily difficult for livestock producers, meat processors, and consumer-facing channels.