Animal protein industry able to produce more with fewer animals\r\nInnovation is driving dramatic improvements in productivity in the poultry, beef and pork sectors, according to James Mintert, a professor at the Center for Commercial Agriculture at Purdue University.\r\n\r\nMintert spoke November 20 at the Midwest Agriculture Conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe productivity improvements arising from innovation are really the foundation of a sustainable food system,\u201d he said. \u201cAnd the productivity improvements in the livestock sector have been nothing short of dramatic.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording to data presented by Mintert, the U.S. produced 60 billion pounds of poultry, beef and pork in 1990. By 2019, production had increased 70% to more than 100 billion pounds.\r\n\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s a huge change in a relatively short span of time,\u201d he said. \u201cAnimal ag in the U.S. is a big industry; it\u2019s always been a big industry. But it\u2019s getting bigger, and it\u2019s getting bigger in a fairly rapid way.\u201d\r\n\r\nBeef production per animal is up 23%, from 533 pounds of beef in 1990 to 657 pounds in 2018. Pork production per sow during the same period is up almost 90%.\r\nConsumer trends, export demands\r\nWhile production has increased, the quantity of meat that U.S. consumers eat has not increased as much; the average U.S. consumer is eating 12% more meat today than in 1990. Exports are driving the growth in production.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou see a little bit of a disconnect: a huge increase in meat production and yet U.S. consumers are not the ones that are really eating it,\u201d he said. \u201cSo, the growth has really been from the export side.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the 1980s, the U.S. was importing more meat than it was exporting, Mintert said. The crossover point was in 1990, and since then there has been fairly rapid growth and now, on a net basis, the U.S. is exporting just shy of 14 billion pounds of beef, pork and poultry. This is 12-14% of production on a net basis.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe export side has really been the growth aspect for U.S. meat production, and it\u2019s largely been driven by consumer income growth around the world,\u201d he said. \u201cAnd, as consumer incomes around the world are growing, those consumers have wanted to improve their diet and, for most people around the world, improving their diet means eating more animal protein.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the U.S., there has been a big increase in poultry consumption \u2013 a shift that has been underway for decades. In 1960, U.S. meat consumption was 21% poultry; today it is 50%. Meanwhile, U.S. pork and beef consumption has declined. In 1960, pork was 36% of consumption; today it is 23%. Beef consumption is down from 38% in 1960 to 26% today.\r\n\r\n\u201cSo, a dramatic shift in production, a dramatic shift in the importance of international trade and exports, and a fairly dramatic shift in terms of what U.S. consumers are seeming to prefer in terms of that shift toward poultry,\u201d Mintert said.\r\nImproved technology, management\r\nImprovements in technology and management practices has contributed to the increased production efficiency in the protein sectors.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s \u201can amazing technology story and management story that\u2019s taken place over a short span of time,\u201d Mintert said.\r\n\r\nThe ability to produce more protein with fewer animals allows for more food production at a lower cost, reduced land use, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reduced environmental impacts, he said.\r\n\r\nIn the future, digital agriculture will allow for better data collection and analysis, and real-time management adjustments. This will lead to improvements in animal health, welfare, nutrition and waste management, resulting in an even more productive livestock sector.\r\n\r\nIf you're interested learning more about consumer protein trends, register for the IPPE 2020 Feed Strategy Conference.