ARLINGTON, Va. -- Growth in poultry production is expected to nearly keep up with the continued beef boom, an economist told attendees at the annual conference of the National Broiler Council here.
comparison, he said beef production will increase to over 25.6 billion pounds, "setting a U.S. record for beef production." So far this year, production of beef has risen 7.6% in the first quarter and 5% in the second.
Pork production, on the other hand, is likely to decline more than 4% for 1996, Walser said. In terms of competition for poultry products, he pointed out that both the beef and pork industries have made marketing gains.
"The pork sector has made great strides in marketing sophistication with branded products and increased sensitivity to customer needs."
But another consultant on the same "Market Outlook Panel" as Walser seemed to be claiming that even with these improvements, other protein sources are not catching up to the booming poultry industry.
"Poultry consumption in-creased 3.8% per year or 75% in 20 years," said Bill Helming, a consultant from Olathe, Kan. "Beef consumption decreased 1.5% per year or 29% in 20 years.
"Pork consumption has been essentially flat and stable over this same 20-year period, ranging typically between 48 to 53 pounds per person."
And the poultry industry still has price on its side, he said. "Over the past 25 years, the consumer price of beef has increased 3.6 times faster than the consumer price of chicken."
Helming enumerated several other reasons why consumers will continue to gravitate toward poultry products.
"The cattle and beef industry will continue to suffer until it starts consistently producing a product that consumers want, rather than what the USDA says they want. The USDA grading system is stifling the development and use of branded beef products, and is also blocking value-based beef production and pricing from becoming a reality," he said.
"Consistently high quality and tender beef will sell and will improve the competitive and market-share position for beef."
Helming pinpointed several priorities essential for the broiler industry to maintain its advantage over other meats in the next 10 years. Among these were further expansion and investment in new product development of value-added merchandise, further processed and cooked chicken food products and further gains in broiler production and processing efficiencies.