In analyzing beef demand from the perspective of share of the global stomach, some things loom on the horizon that U.S. beef producers need to be aware of, says Ted Schroeder, Kansas State University ag economics professor.

"It's become very apparent to me that participants in the global protein industry who can figure out ways to most profitably produce the products that those consumers want, and can figure out how to get a larger share of the plate of those consumers, will prosper," he says.

But it won't be easy. Brazil didn't sit idle while the U.S. struggled with the fallout from BSE. In fact, he says Brazil was already positioning itself to attack the U.S. position as the No.-1 world beef supplier even before BSE brought U.S. exports to its knees.

Brazil has had a 5.7% annual growth in its beef herd every year for the past several years. And Schroeder adds, "They have no anticipation that will slow down for another five to 10 years. They've got the land to expand and they've got the technology to integrate their production industries."

Schroeder said he noticed during a trip to Brazil last fall that many of the people making things happen in the Brazilian beef industry are young, multilingual and have multiple university degrees.

"Brazil has not only invested in its herd, it's invested in humans. We need to make note of that. As we go forward, we need young, creative, aggressive people to generate new ideas for our industry. Continue to support and bring our young people in and let them take leadership," he says.

-- Burt Rutherford