Tags: jbs | beef | price

Meat Company CEO: US Beef Prices Heading Higher

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 05:09 PM

U.S. consumers already cringing at high beef prices can expect even more expensive meat later this year due to the smallest cattle herd in more than 50 years, the chief executive of one of the nation's largest meat companies said on Wednesday.

"We do expect that there is going to be increasing beef prices from the levels we see today," Don Jackson, chief executive of JBS USA, said during a presentation at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

Higher prices for the consumer will result from the higher prices JBS and other beef companies will pay for cattle from a much smaller supply pool as their plants continue to produce beef.

U.S. shoppers have been paying record prices for beef since September 2011, with the latest record average price posted in January at $5.09 per lb, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Jackson said that, while he has not seen it yet, consumers could at some point begin switching from beef to lower-priced proteins like pork and chicken.

The U.S. cattle herd has been reduced by a years-long drought in the southern U.S. Plains and high feed prices which have forced cattlemen to reduce production.

While current cattle supplies are adequate, Jackson predicted that supply will decrease later this year, putting pressure on beef plants in the southern Plains where competition for cattle will be the highest.

"No JBS plant will close," Jackson told the Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago. However, he said the company's beef plants have been operating at less than 40 hours a week since October.

JBS USA is a unit of Brazilian meat producer JBS SA, the world's largest meat producer. It produces beef, pork and chicken.

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 05:09 PM
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