U.S. poultry consumption will surpass red meat consumption in 2014, Poultry Perspective economist Paul Aho said January 30 at the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

“It’s going to happen. We’re going to surpass red meat in per capita consumption for 2014. We’re already on the upswing and they’re still continuing to decline,” Aho said. 

Aho said that things are definitely looking up for the poultry industry, which is bouncing back after a dismal 2012. Aho noted the odds of a second straight year of drought in the corn belt are only about 17 percent. But even if there are back-to-back years of drought, increased worldwide corn production and improved moisture will eventually bring feed prices back to more comfortable levels.

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“Good times are on the way. I’m just not sure if it will be this year or not,” said Aho.
Overall meat consumption dropped when the 2008 worldwide recession hit. Economic times are improving, and some sectors of animal proteins have done better than others. Poultry has bounced back, while pork has not yet done that, and beef appears destined to continue a downward production trend.

“We’re going to see unimaginably high prices for beef, which is good for the chicken industry,” said Aho. “If we can combine low grain prices and high beef prices, we could be looking at some very good times."