Top Headlines that Shaped 2014

Top Headlines that Shaped 2014

As we pause to reflect on the year behind us, those of us in the meat industry look for the key takeaways that can help us in the coming year. In many ways, 2014 was like the year it followed:   shrinking supplies, rising prices and plenty of challenges for the meat industry from multiple fronts. As we look back across the last 12 months, 5 major themes stand out – themes that will continue to have an impact on the U.S. meat industry:

  1. Fresh meat prices skyrocketed in 2014, making bold headlines throughout the year. 1The average retail price of beef and pork increased 9%, and the average retail price of chicken increased 4%. Despite these surging prices, consumer demand is staying strong.
  2. Four years of severe drought have created dramatic shifts in the geography of the live cattle supply. This issue has weighed heavily on the minds of everyone in the fresh meat supply channel. Earlier this year, Bloomberg covered the drought in California, and Meatingplace provided an in-depth report on the drought’s considerable industry implications. And still, we wait for rain….
  3. The buzz around antibiotic resistance continues to grow, fueled by the late 2013 release of the CDC’s Antibiotics/Antimicrobials Threat Report. Many consumer advocate groups are adamant in their call for the FDA to ban the use of antibiotics in livestock. The need for clear, factual communication with consumers about why and how antibiotics are used couldn’t be more important.
  4. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) took over the fresh pork industry in 2014, threatening pork supplies and suffocating producer’s profits. In September, the USDA granted Zoetis a conditional license to develop a PEDv vaccine, injecting hope into this grim animal health issue.
  5. Acquisition and consolidation isn’t new to the fresh meat industry, but the magnitude of the deals certainly continues to grow. This year, Tyson Fresh Meats won the bidding war against Pilgrim’s Pride for the Hillshire brands, following Shuanghui’s Smithfield acquisition in 2013. Who’s next?

So what does your 2014 Top 5 list look like? What will make meat industry headlines in 2015? I would love to hear your comments!

A toast to a New Year and new opportunities for the meat industry!

1FreshLook Marketing: For the 52-weeks ending on October 26, 2014, compared to the prior year.

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