As the WATT PoultryUSA magazine editor, I feel compelled to write a prediction column to ring in the new year. Why don’t you hold onto this magazine and see how well I do?

1. Antibiotics use will decrease further

Consumers in the U.S. and Europe are rejecting antibiotics in the food chain and soon enough this fashion will spread to other parts of the world. In 2019, the consumer’s role in setting the agenda will only grow further. Some integrators and farmers will never change for whatever reason, but it’s evident to me that antibiotic-free or no-antibiotics-ever (NAE) production will be the dominant way to do business in the near future.

2. The industry will continue to consolidate

The biggest players in the industry will continue to consolidate through mergers and acquisitions of smaller, rival firms. In 2018, we saw two of the country’s largest agribusiness companies, Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. grow through acquisition at home and abroad. Tyson focused on the U.S., adding Keystone Foods LLC and MBA Poultry LLC, while Cargill went international with moves in South America, Asia and Europe. This should only continue in the current economic and political climate.

3. Trade war will escalate

To paraphrase President Lyndon Johnson: It’s easy to get in a war but it’s awfully hard to get out. In the January 2019 issue of WATT PoultryUSA, you’ll read how one economist is predicting the growing trade dispute between the U.S. and China will define the protein market in 2019. These days in Washington anything can happen, but it seems certain the conflict between the world’s two largest economies won’t end well or easily. Keen observers say the fight is worth having now; but it’s unknown how the current tactic of tit-for-tat tariffs will ultimately work out for either side nor is it clear how long the conflict will drag out and how it will affect the country’s farm economy in the long run.