More Meat Than Ever

Despite the current economic downturn and the growth of the vegetarian/vegan movement, the demand for American meat products continues to rise both domestically and abroad. And while our appetites are growing, so are the prices of beef and pork. Reports the Wall Street Journal,

The average price for sliced bacon in September was $4.82 a pound, up 34% from two years earlier, while uncooked beef roasts cost $4.52 a pound, up 15% over the same period, according to government figures.

Live cattle prices are up 13% this year in Chicago futures trading, making cattle among the few widely traded commodities besides gold to be up by double digits. Lean hogs futures are up 9% this year. Both meat contracts also jumped in 2010, climbing 26% and 22%, respectively.

Even though many Americans cannot afford the prime cuts, they are still eating large quantities of choice and select (that’s what the steak sauce is for).

At the same time, exports are booming. “The U.S. had shipped nearly 1.9 billion pounds of beef and veal abroad this year through August, almost as much as in all of 2009,” notes the Journal, while “[p]ork exports also are poised to top the 2008 record of 4.7 billion pounds. Through August, the U.S. had already sent more pork abroad, 3.3 billion pounds, than in 2007, and twice as much as in 2002.”

Americans have long loved their beef (before refrigeration, pork, which can be salted, was the most popular meat in the nation). If you haven’t read Joseph Mitchell’s “All You Can Hold For Five Bucks” from 1939 (a tribute to New York’s great beefsteak dinners), you really ought to.

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