It’s hard to believe that there would be more pork produced in the U.S. than beef but that’s indeed the case if LMIC’s 2014 forecasts play out. The reductions in beef output and renewed growth for pork production in 2014 will put beef tonnage at 23.509 billion lbs. and pork tonnage at a new record level of 23.628 billion lbs.

To be honest, we never thought we would see the day come, and we still may not, but the trends are very strong at the moment. Now, remember, these changes are predicated on normal crop weather in 2013 and 2014, and we all know that may be a heroic assumption. But the fact that a well-known and respected group such as LMIC could forecast higher pork than beef production in the U.S. is pretty astounding.

Let’s be clear, though, that U.S. beef consumption will still exceed pork consumption since the U.S. beef sector exports only about 10% of total output, and the U.S. pork industry exports in excess of 20% of total output. Per-capita beef consumption is forecast at 52.9 lbs. in 2013 and 50.2 lbs. in 2014. Both will be record lows.

2013 Beef Industry Outlook: Are Consumers Near Their Price Limit?

Meanwhile, per-capita pork consumption is forecast at 42.3 lbs. and 42.6 lbs. in those two years, respectively. Those figures are still higher than the all-time low of 38.5 lbs. in 1976, but would rank as the third- and fifth-lowest on record.

As we have pointed out many times, these lower consumption figures are driven far more by supply and cost issues than by demand. While beef and pork demands have softened some, they have been relatively stable since the post-Atkins Diet declines of 2005 and 2006. The reductions in consumption are driven by lower output in the case of beef and growing exports in the case of pork. The output of both sectors would have been significantly larger had costs not exploded since 2007.