Chances are that capital requirements will preclude any single entity from ever owning a significant vertically integrated supply chain in the beef industry, says Bill Rupp, president of the JBS U.S. Beef Division (JBS).

“With that said, the pork and poultry industries are vertically integrated through ownership,” Rupp says. “As an industry, if we can’t figure out how to work together to grow the pie and fairly share it, then we will continue to lose market share to them.”

There’s no need to lose.

While price is obviously a factor, Al Byers, JBS senior vice president of sales, says, “Look at what consumers are willing to pay for beef in the context of history.” By that measure, current domestic beef demand remains robust.

“Beef is still desired by food service as a center-of-the-plate item,” Byers explains. “For retailers, beef continues to be desirable because it generates more ring at the cash register than competing proteins.”

Plus, beef continues to be a primary point of differentiation for retailers.