2021 beef production is expected to be an all-time high. Current USDA forecasts are for commercial beef production to total 27.8 billion pounds during 2021 which would be a weekly average of about 535 million pounds. This would be an approximately 2.4 percent increase above the 2020 total which is the current record.
The chart above shows weekly federally inspected beef production totals over the past 15 years. This chart is messy because it uses weekly data, but I chose this one because it shows the seasonal patterns within a year. There are also low points in the data each year due to weeks with holidays. I’ve omitted the two weeks near Christmas and New Year’s Day from the chart above, but there are still other holidays throughout the year that impact weekly beef production totals. Also immediately obvious are the low weeks during the spring of 2020 due to pandemic disruptions.
The chart shows beef production has increased steadily since 2015 which was the lowest annual total since 1993 at 23.7 billion pounds. The weekly average in 2015 was 456 million pounds. 2021 is on track to be about 17 percent above that 2015 low point. The major difference between the two years is the number of cattle processed. Through the first 43 weeks of 2021, there have been about 4 million more cattle slaughtered than during first 43 weeks of 2015. This total includes steers, heifers, cows, and bulls.
2015 was a transition year for beef production and the cattle cycle. The U.S. calf crop bottomed-out in 2014 before beginning a string of annual increases through 2018. Beef production has increased each year since 2015 but is expected to decline in 2022 as cattle supplies tighten. Calf crop totals were 2.0 and 1.3 percent lower in 2019 and 2020. The mid-year USDA calf crop estimate for 2021 was a 0.1 percent annual decline. 2021 could likely be another transition year as the last of the annual beef production increases for this cycle.
Source: Mississippi State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.