March Meat Monitor Shows Some Good News

Every month, Dr. Glynn Tonsor, a livestock market economist with Kansas State University, releases a Meat Demand Monitor. Tonsor says the latest data from March shows some  good news.

“The good news for the industry is retail demand – so think to go the grocery store for consumption at home – was up on five of the eight products we examined in March compared to February and several cases where it was up compared to March of 2023, which is good. Specifically, ground beef was up, pork chops down slightly, bacon a little bit off, and chicken breast was up. They’re not major changes, but retail demand appears to be holding up pretty well is what I would highlight there.”

He also looks at foodservice demand.

“Foodservice demand, however, was actually up on all examined, maybe reversing the pattern, and please note, I emphasize maybe because it’s the tone of my voice here says there’s other evidence that foodservice demand is still soft. I hope the March MDM is the right one and not kind of the outlier that was wrong for a month. As we’ve started here, 2024 retail demand has been okay, and foodservice demand is a little softer. The costs of a meal have reflected elevated labor costs and other things, and more and more households concerned about their budget have just consumed more at home, and demand’s been higher for at home.”

Tonsor also quizzes consumers about what matters to them when making purchasing decisions.

“The way we measure that in the MDM is called protein values. We give them a list of 12 things like taste, safety, price, all the way up to environmental impact and ask what are the four of these 12 that are most important when you make a protein purchasing decision, and what are the four that are least important? The four you don’t take are intermediate. So, I have this forced rank exercise, and we do that so that you can’t tell me all 12 are the most important things in your life because forced tradeoffs tell us more. We continue to see that for the average person in March, taste, freshness, safety, and price remain the four most important. More directly, they are the ones most often in the Top Four Bucket. Conversely, things like environmental impact, origin, traceability, animal welfare, and the use of hormones and antibiotics rank quite lower.”