Meat Products

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Meat Products


NAICS: 31-161N Animal Slaughtering and Processing (Except Poultry)

SIC: 2011 Meat Packing Plants

NAICS-Based Product Codes: 31-16111, 31-16114, 31-16117, 31-1611A, 31-1611D, 31-1611G, 31-1611J, 31-1611M1, 31-1611P, 31-1611R, 31-1611W, 31-16121, 31-16124, 31-16127, 31-1612A, 31-1612W, 31-16131, 31-16135, and 31-1613W


Much of the protein in our daily diet comes from three categories: red meat, poultry, and seafood. Red meat comes from cattle, hogs, and sheep. Extremely small amounts of goat and horsemeat are also consumed but these are specialized markets. Protein consumption trends in the United States were changing decisively in the early 2000s for complex reasons. A broad look, as presented in Figure 137, will create perspective. The graphic shows per capita consumption of meat products in pounds per year for the period from 1977 to 2005.

These data show the year 2003 to have been of historical significance. For the first time in history, chicken became the top-ranked source of meat consumed in the United States. In 2003 people ate 95.5 pounds of chicken meat per person and 93.2 pounds of beef and veal combined. If we take poultry as a whole, beef yielded first place earlier, in 1997. The total category of red meat, however, still held top rank over poultry in 2005. Consumption of red meat was at the per capitum level of 158.8 pounds versus poultry at 117 and fish and shellfish at 16.1 pounds at the end of the period shown.

Structure of the Industry

The red meat sector—which we will refer to as meat products—is dominated by beef and pork consumption, including veal. Lamb and mutton are eaten by a small minority; lamb consumption has fluctuated between 1.2 and 1.3 pounds per person per year throughout the early years of the 2000s. The industry divides into three large sectors. The first, slaughter houses, represent 66.5 percent of total sales. At these facilities animals are killed and the meat is processed directly into fresh and frozen cuts, sausages, and canned meats. Lard is produced. Finally, hides, pelts, and skins are prepared for sale. The second sector is made up of companies that process meat from purchased carcasses. They also prepare cuts of meat, grind meat and sell patties, and distribute such products in fresh or frozen forms boxed for the retail sector. The processing industry accounts for 30 percent of industry output. The third sector is known as the rendering industry. Its three segments are lard and grease products, animal feeds and marine feed products, and fertilizers derived from meat residues. Meat rendering accounts for 3.5 percent of all meat product shipments.

Livestock raisers supply the slaughtering industry. In order to nail down prices early, producers like to secure supplies in advance with long-term contracts. They prefer to deal with large operations and buy additional units, should they need them, on the open market. In 2005, 32.4 million head of cattle, including calves, 103.6 million hogs, and 2.7 million lambs were slaughtered to supply the meat products market. Cattle numbers were down from 36.3 million head, lamb numbers down from 3.9 million, but hog numbers were up from 92 million head in 1997 reflecting trends in consumption.

In both the cattle and hog segments, confined raising of animals is the dominant approach. Large operations are few in number but account for most of the animals sent to slaughter. In 2005, for instance, cattle raisers with 500 head or more per operation represented 3 percent of producers but accounted for 43.6 percent of cattle being raised. One percent of operations had 1,000 head or greater; these leaders accounted for 30.7 percent of production. Values in hog raising were even more skewed to confined animal production. In that branch of the livestock industry, 25 percent of operations had 500 or more animals and accounted for 95 percent of total hogs being raised. Four percent of operations had 5,000 animals or more; these accounted for 54 percent of hog production.

Animal Breeds and Designations

According to a listing published by Cattle Today, Inc., some sixty breeds of beef cattle are being raised in the United States. Of these the two largest breeds are Angus and Hereford, originally hailing from Scotland and England, respectively. The Wagyu breed is world famous but under another name, Kobe beef, in part due to the taste of its meat and the manner in which such cattle are raised. They are dosed by hand with beer and given daily massages. Most U.S. beef is Angus. In this category, as in the others, slaughtered young animals are a distinct category. Veal, derived from calves, is more tender and has less fat. The designation heifer refers to a female bovine that has never given birth and hence is sometimes used interchangeably with calf. Cattle belong to the subfamily of bovines, part of the family called Bovidae.

The National Swine Registry lists four major breeds in the United States: the Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace, and Yorkshire. These breeds represent 87 percent of the U.S. herd. In hog production, however, cross-breeding is a common practice to produce vigorous stock. For that reason, pork buyers rarely know which breed they are purchasing. Young piglets are a delicacy; they are still sometimes referred to as farrows. The term hog is used for full-grown adult swine, the latter being a generic designation of the Suidae family and the Sus genus in biological classification. The term procine has no link to biological classification and is derived from the Latin for swine, porcus. Castrated males are referred to as barrows (equivalent to steer in cattle) and females never having birthed are gilts (equivalent to heifers).

There are some forty-seven breeds of sheep raised in the United States, the most prominent of these being Suffolk, Dorset, Hampshire, Dorper, Southdown, Katahdin, Rambouillet, and Columbia. All but the last two are raised primarily for meat, the last two for wool. Suffolk is the most popular breed for slaughter. Lamb, a sheep less than a year old, is a delicacy; baby lamb, not more than 10 weeks old, a greater delicacy yet. Males are known as rams, females as ewes. The word mutton is used for the meat of adult sheep but also means a castrated male. Sheep belong to the ovine genus of the Bovidae family.

Meat products reach the market in seven distinct forms. They are sold as:

  1. Fresh meat delivered to retailers in refrigerated or in frozen form
  2. Sausage
  3. Canned meat
  4. Cooked and/or preserved meats with smoke, salt, and spices used as the preservatives; the term cured is also used, an example being cured ham
  5. Bulk meat sold in formulations for use in other food products
  6. Extracted fatty products such as lard
  7. Meat by-products such as leather, animal feeds, and fertilizers

Fresh and frozen meat products were the largest product category, accounting for approximately 83 percent of slaughter house and 55 percent of the total industry outputs in 2002. Fresh and frozen products are classified by cuts named after the parts of the carcass from which they are taken. The major cuts of beef are shown in Figure 138. Moving from head to rump and using three levels from top to bottom, the major cuts are chuck, rib, the loins, and round on the topmost level; brisket, plate and flank at the second; and shank cuts from the upper part of the fore and back legs.

In pork cuts, using the same order of procedure as in beef, we get the Boston butt, corresponding to beef's chuck, the loin (subdivided into four types known as blade end, center rib, center loin, and sirloin), and the ham (upper level); the jowl, picnic shoulder, spare ribs, and side (second level); and the hock and foot of the front and back legs (bottom level). In butchering sheep, the same principle applies, but only two levels are used. The shoulder, the rack, loin, and the sirloin are taken successively from the front to the back at the upper level. At the second level the foreshank, breast, and the entire back leg are cuts of lamb or mutton.

Sausage production represented the second largest product of the red meat category, 10.5 percent of industry output in 2002. The proportion of this output represented by hot dogs is not discernible from national statistics but must be high. Cured or otherwise processed pork products were 9.4 percent of output, predominantly hams. Canned meats were 1.6 percent and lard 1.2 percent of industry shipments. Hides, skins, and pelts accounted for 2.4 percent and animal feeds together with fertilizer products for 2.3 percent of sales. The remaining output of the industry, classified as miscellaneous or not specified by kind represented 17.2 percent of total. Of that category an estimated two-thirds ended up in human food; the rest in industrials uses.

USDA Meat Grading

Beginning in 1926 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been operating a voluntary but fee-based meat grading system. The system arose because shipping companies and large buyers were seeking a way to introduce measurements to help them in pricing meat. They persuaded the USDA to take part in this. The fees are paid by the meat processor for grading services delivered by USDA graders. The grading system is based on intramuscular fat content, commonly referred to as marbling. The taste and tenderness of meat increases with marbling. Saturated fats, high in hydrogen, are associated with the hardening of arteries and thus with heart disease. Most such fats are consumed in the form of meat and dairy products; they are also present in coconut and palm oils. The very fact that fat content is the chief factor in producing flavor and soft texture, and that lean in meats usually translates to toughness and lack of taste, shows that grading goes back to a more innocent era.

Beef grades in descending order of quality are prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, cutter, and canner. The first three are used in labeling cuts of beef sold at retail for higher prices. Standard and commercial grades are usually store brands. The lowest grades, cutter and canner, typically come from older animals. The cuts have a low ratio of meat to bone and fat is barely discernible. Producers remove the bone and grind the meat for sausage or canning purposes. The top grades are further subdivided. The top level of prime beef will have 11 percent or higher fat, the top grade of choice will have 7 to 8 percent, and the top grade of select will have 3.5 to 4 percent intramuscular fat.

The USDA also grades lamb and mutton into prime and choice grades, the grades typically found in stores. The grades called USDA good, utility, and cull are used by the processors. The USDA also grades pork but uses only two categories—acceptable and not acceptable.


Total Industry

Information about the market is available from the U.S. Bureau of the Census in dollars and from the USDA in quantitative terms. At the producer level, the industry's shipments in 2005 were valued at $102.6 billion, growing at an annual rate of 2.8 percent since 1997; in that year shipments were $82.1 billion. Quantities of meat produced stood at 24.9 billion pounds for beef and veal, 20.7 billion pounds for pork, and 191 million pounds for lamb in 2005. Beef production measured in weight declined at the rate of 0.4 percent per year, pork production increased at the rate of 2.3 percent per year, and lamb production declined at 3.8 percent between 1997 and 2005. All meat produced declined on the basis of weight at 0.7 percent per year while dollar shipments increased at 2.8 percent, indicating that price increases alone accounted for all growth in the industry. Data for the entire period is shown in Figure 139.

Shipments are presented in millions of dollars and production by type of meat is presented in millions of pounds.
Shipments and Types of Meat199719981999200020012002200320042005
Industrial Shipments82,07976,74179,22587,00390,88285,08895,01198,122102,618
Production by Type
  Beef and Veal25,82426,02226,72827,11326,41727,39726,54124,82624,949

Imports and Exports

Foreign trade plays an important role in this industry, impacting the domestic production sector in various ways, negatively as well as positively. During the period from 1997 to 2005, beef imports increased at an annual rate of 5.5 percent whereas exports plummeted at the rate of 13 percent per year. In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the United States was a net exporter of beef. From 1925 to 1947, the picture was mixed, with trade surpluses in some years and deficits in other years. Since 1948, however, the country has experienced only trade deficits in beef. Most imports of beef reach the United States from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1997 imports stood at 2.3 billion pounds, exports were 2.1 billion pounds, the negative trade balance a small 200 million pounds. By 2005 imports had increased to 3.6 billion pounds and exports had virtually collapsed to 698 million pounds as a consequence of the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE) in a dairy herd in Washington State. As a consequence 72 of 133 countries importing U.S. beef stopped accepting product from the country. The situation has improved somewhat since then, but as of early 2006, 21 export markets were still closed to the United States. Under normal circumstances, top export markets for U.S. beef are Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Canada.

Pork's performance compared to beef produced quite a different pattern in trade. First of all, pork increased its share of the red meat category from 40 to 45 percent of weight shipped between 1997 and 2005; beef went down from 60 to 54 percent in the same period. Pork export, which stood at 1.0 billion pounds in 1997, increased to 2.7 billion pounds, nearly tripling. Imports also increased, from 634 million to 1.0 billion pounds, but while exports grew 12.4 percent per year, imports grew at half that rate. In this category as well, animal diseases played a decisive role. BSE cases in the United States and in Canada produced a downward pressure on beef consumption. Avian flu outbreaks put a chill on poultry sales around the world and helped U.S. exports of pork—the one major category of meat not tainted by at least rumors of disease. According to reporting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), avian flu outbreaks with human transmission took place in New York state in November 2003 and in Canada in February 2004. Outbreaks without human transmission also took place in February 2004 in Texas, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. Canada and Denmark supply most of the pork imported into the United States. Our exports of pork are principally purchased by Japan, Canada, and Mexico; these countries accounted for 78 percent of our sales abroad.

In 1997 imports accounted for 24 percent of total lamb meat supply in the United States; by 2005 48 percent of total supply came from imports. Domestic production shrank by 94 million pounds from 260 to 191 million pounds. Imports grew at the rate of 10.2 and exports at a rate of 5.2 percent per year with the consequence of a growing trade deficit in this meat category, from 71 to 171 million pounds.

Market Complexities

Although ultimate demand for meat is governed by consumer demand for protein, this market is of high complexity in that many factors influence the price of meat and consumers can choose between different meat products essentially equivalent from a nutritional point of vantage.

Beef prices are influenced by weather, the related availability of water, and by the resulting price of hay, alfalfa, and corn. During the first decade of the twenty-first century corn prices were increasing sharply, in particular after the announcement of a national policy to develop ethanol as an alternative source of gasoline. In the 2005 to 2006 period, for instance, measured November to November, alfalfa prices increased 11 percent but corn rose by 76 percent according to the USDA's "Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook." In one sense ethanol production marginally helps beef production because cattle are better able to use residual feed products coming from ethanol plants than poultry or pork raisers, according to the USDA, but poultry and beef are helped by shifts in consumer preferences for these meats. Beef prices are further influenced by trends in the dairy sector. Milk consumption in the early 2000s was declining. As a result the industry was in the process of conducting several rounds of herd reduction, based on the logic that diminishing supplies will result in higher prices, lower costs, and higher revenues. The slaughter of dairy cattle, initiated for herd size control, initially increases beef supplies, especially for the lower grades of meat, but ultimately reduces calf stocks because smaller herds produce fewer calves. Veal is the only beef product showing consistent growth. The price of feed and availability of water influence the size of calf herds in another way. Cattle raisers will slaughter calves now rather than enlarging their feeding herds if projected feed prices suggest better profit by selling the animal as veal now rather than as prime beef later. USDA studies based on the period from 1994 to 1996 and in 1998 show that beef consumption correlates with income level and ethnicity. The lower the income of a consumer group, the more beef it consumes. Beef consumption by African Americans was 77 pounds per capita per year, by Hispanics 69 pounds, by Caucasians 65 pounds, and by other races 62 pounds.

Livestock diseases—or even rumors of outbreaks—influence meat consumption and international trade patterns in arbitrary ways in that such events are unpredictable. Bans on imports of live animals or processed meat are not resolved on entirely predictable timescales because national policies to some extent take advantage of such events to protect domestic producers.

In the United States, health concerns that began to reach large segments of the population in the 1980s, coupled with marketing messages intended to reinforce the perceived advantages of poultry and pork to the public, have played a significant role in the shift from beef to poultry and pork. Health concerns center on the increasing prevalence of overweight and obese individuals in the population documented since the 1960s by the CDC in its National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). The 2003 to 2004 NHANES showed that 66.2 percent of adults were overweight and 32.9 percent obese, much higher than levels measured in the late 1970s. Excess weight is in part blamed on ingestion of saturated fats and is associated with the growing incidence of diabetes and heart disease. The pork industry has made efforts to remove pork from the red meat category by publicity, calling pork "the other white meat." Turkey producers, whose product was once consumed predominantly around Thanksgiving, have made great efforts to make turkey a year-round food sold as lunchmeat and as a sausage ingredient.

If one looks at the major competitors in terms of actual positively- and negatively-viewed nutrients, beef does not fare as poorly as usually represented, chicken is not uniformly superior, and pork's virtues are not quite so blinding as claims would have it. An example comes from a paper published by Kuo S. Huang, an analyst with the USDA, writing in Food Review. Huang cites USDA nutritional statistics, comparing beef, pork, and chicken. Using one-pound quantities of these meats, Huang reported chicken as lowest in calories (665 kilocalories) and fat (46.4 grams) but highest in cholesterol (282 milligrams) and second-lowest in protein (57.4 grams). Pork was highest in calories (1,398 kcal) and fat (130.5 grams), second-highest in cholesterol (274 milligrams) and lowest in protein (51.8 grams). Beef was intermediate between chicken and pork in calories (1,063 kcal) and fat (87.9 grams) but lowest in cholesterol (272 milligrams) and highest in protein (63.3 grams).


Tyson Foods Inc.

Tyson is the top meat producer in the United States with sales of $25.6 billion in 2006. Of that total, Tyson realized $11.8 billion in the beef category, $7.9 billion in chicken sales, $3.1 billion in pork, and $2.7 billion in prepared food. Tyson is ranked first in beef with approximately 30 percent of the market. Despite its leading role in beef, Tyson is best known as the country's leading chicken supplier, originating when the company's founder, John Tyson, began selling chickens beyond the borders of Arkansas. In the chicken category, Tyson is a vertically integrated firm raising chickens in its own operations. In the beef and pork category, Tyson buys its product from producers and is a meat processor.

Smithfield Foods, Inc.

Smithfield considers itself top ranked in pork (with some 40 processing facilities) and fifth, overall, in beef. Smithfield had sales of $11.9 billion in 2007. Total sales were assigned to packaged meats, accounting for 52 percent of revenues, fresh pork for 46 percent, and other products for 2 percent. The company began as a packing operation in Virginia and was a family enterprise, founded by Joseph W. Luter Sr. and Jr. in 1936. Smithfield expanded by acquisition and became vertically integrated in pork production in efforts to secure its own sources of supply.

Cargill Corporation

A major participant in the meat products market is Cargill Corporation, where it is ranked as second to Tyson, principally through its Excel subsidiary operation, part of Cargill Meat Solutions, an element of Cargill. The company also sells pork and turkey. Cargill had sales of $75.2 billion in 2006 but, as a privately held company, it does not report details on its business segments. Cargill, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is one of the largest companies in the United States and is the largest privately held firm. It is a global trader in agricultural and food products, provides pharmaceutical and food ingredients, offers financing products, and produces industrial goods from agricultural commodities.

Swift & Company

The official name of this company is S&C Holdco 3, Inc. It was ranked third in beef in the United States in 2006 with approximately $5.5 billion in beef sales and fourth in pork with approximately $2.1 billion. Swift's total sales of $9.35 billion included sales of lamb, but these sales were reported as part of the company's beef segment. Among major publicly held companies Swift was the only operator of a lamb processing plant. In addition to its U.S. operations, Swift also operated a beef processing division in Australia in 2006.

National Beef Packing Company LLC

National, ranked fourth in beef production, is part of U.S. Premium Beef, a producer-owned and privately held beef company. National has an estimated 8 percent market share in the beef packing industry.

Hormel Foods Corporation

Hormel is ranked second in pork and pork products in the latter part of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The company had 2006 revenues of $5.7 billion, its revenues derived principally from the sale of pork, canned meat, turkeys, and turkey meat. Over half of the company's production was in the form of fresh meat product. Hormel is a major food canner. Its best known product in the United States and around the world is Spam. The name of the product derives from spiced ham. The canned lunch meat was introduced in 1937, became popular at once, and spread across the world during World War II with military and aid supplies.

Oscar Mayer/Kraft, Inc.

The leading sausage brand in the United States is Oscar Mayer, a brand owned by Kraft, Inc., the diversified $34.4 billion (2006) food corporation. Oscar Mayer is also the top supplier of lunch meats and bacon. Oscar Mayer was a real person who, as a boy of fourteen, got his first job in 1873 as an apprentice butcher boy in Detroit, Michigan. He later held jobs in Chicago, including a stint at the Armour & Company stockyards. Having learned his trade, he joined with his brother, Gottfried, who immigrated from Nuremberg in Germany to join the family. Gottfried was already an expert sausage maker. Joined later by another brother, Max, the Mayers began a very successful sausage business in Chicago which grew into Oscar Mayer, the Company. Oscar Mayer & Co. was acquired by General Foods in 1981 and was absorbed into Kraft when Philip Morris bought both companies.

Some twenty-one meat packers in the United States are known to process lamb. Lamb and mutton are frequently products they handle alongside beef and veal. Examples of participants, all privately held, are Chiapetti Lamb & Veal Co. of Chicago, Illinois; Dutch Valley Veal of South Holland, Illinois; Wolverine Packing Co. of Detroit, Michigan; and Dakota Lamb Growers Cooperative of Hettinger, North Dakota.

Meat production fields a large number of smaller companies operating in regional markets. The 2002 Economic Census identified 3,091 companies in the field. They operated 3,435 establishments of which 1,124 had twenty or more employees. In most industries in the United States both company and establishment counts have been shrinking as a consequence of consolidation. The meat products industry has a contrary history. Company counts and total establishments both increased between 1997 and 2002; companies up from 2,609 in 1997 and establishments up from 2,930. Large establishments declined from a level of 1,151 to 1,124 in this period.


Transportation logistics in the meat products industry favor placement of the slaughtering operation as close to the occurrence of livestock as possible. Extensive transportation of animals over great distances is inefficient and costly; animals lose weight during transportation; their feeding and waste handling is also problematic on the road. Not surprisingly, therefore, the top five states in this industry produced nearly half of all shipments in 2002: Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois. With the exception of packaging and packing materials, the only inputs required by the industry are animals.

While concentration is logistically and economically indicated, animals are raised virtually everywhere. For this reason processing plants are located in all states except six. Among these states are Nevada and Arizona, adjacent to California which is an important cattle state. New Mexico has no processors but, being adjacent to Texas, a major meat processor, growers in New Mexico ship animals to Texas. The mountainous West Virginia has only a token production of livestock. Animals raised in New Hampshire and Maine, states which have no processing facilities, are most likely shipped to Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.

The top cattle producing states are Texas (leading by several lengths), Kansas, Nebraska, and California. The top hog producing states are Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Illinois. Texas, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Colorado are the leading sheep producing states.


Most meat products are sold directly to ultimate consumers in fresh and frozen forms through retail grocery stores, including in that category the grocery operations of mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs. This channel, which typically involves a wholesale intermediary, is serviced by producers using routes. Routes involve delivery by refrigerated trucks to central distribution centers or directly to stores. Large retail chains operate their own wholesale system and in part also rely on independent wholesalers. This major channel accounts for approximately 36 percent of industry outputs. In retailing meat, grocery stores divide into those that do and those that do not maintain butcher shops on the premises. Where butcher shops are present, additional processing of meat takes place on site. Sausages, as well as cured and canned goods also move through the grocery channel.

Restaurants, including fast food outlets, are the second major consumers of fresh and frozen meat products. Fast food chains purchase their output directly from producers. Smaller restaurants buy their foods from wholesalers or retailers at commercial discounts. The restaurant segment accounts for approximately 19 percent of total industry consumption.

Industrial buyers of meat products, incorporating their purchases into a great variety of prepared foods, account for 17 percent of industry shipments. The channel serving these companies varies with the size of the buyer; large consumers deal directly with the packing industry, while others use the services of wholesalers.


Meat products are a standard part of the diet of many Americans. A small minority of people avoid all meat products and subsist on vegetarian diets. From this perspective a good portion of the population are key users of meat protein.


Meat products are consumed because they are a principal source of protein and a secondary source of fats. For the red meat industry, adjacent markets are poultry, fish, and seafood. It is possible to avoid eating meat altogether, as strict vegetarians do. Dairy foods, particularly cheeses, are a source of protein. The largest single source of vegetable proteins are available from legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils. The University of Iowa, in an article on beans and legumes provides the following list indicative of the great variety available. Included are adzuki beans, broadbeans, butter beans, cannellini beans, chick peas or garbanzo beans, cowpeas, cranberry beans, great northern beans, mothbeans, mung beans, mungo beans, snow peas, soybeans, winged beans, yam beans, and yellow or white beans.

The preparation of meats, especially outdoors and in clement weather, has communal and ritualistic aspects and specialized equipment, including barbequing gear of all sizes and complexity, fueled by charcoal, wood, and petroleum gases. This entire product category—equipment, implements, and such minor items as chef's hats and humorously decorated aprons—represent an adjacent market to meat products.


Most research in this field is associated with animal raising, while most development is aimed at introducing novel consumer products. Research centered on animals extends from developing genetic lines of beef and hogs, hormonal treatments of livestock to speed growth or to increase output of milk, feeding regimes that produce the most desirable meat tissues, and management methods that prevent diseases even under conditions most outside observers view as abusive to any living creature.

An example of genetic research underway in the first decade of the 2000s is the development of so-called prion-free cattle. As reported in ScienceDaily, "Prions are proteins that are naturally produced in animals. An abnormal form of prion is believed to cause devastating illnesses called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), the best known of which is BSE." BSE is mad-cow disease. Such research is under way under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Prion-free cattle have been bred and, according to the ARS, the animals appear to be normal in every way. Public opposition to such research, as well as to the use of bovine growth hormone, called bovine somatotropin (BST), aimed at increasing milk production, appears to be growing.

Genetic interventions have produced lean hogs on the one hand and turkey sausages on the other. Turkey sausages are an example of products developed in the industry under which novel foods are produced to provide consumers with what are at least perceived as healthier meat products.


The rising rank of poultry as a leading meat product indicated in changes in public taste and in the market is due to health concerns. These concerns, based on continually dismal reports from health authorities, are not likely to abate. Whether or not a shift from beef to chicken is actually healthy or merely a perception is not immediately evident.

The important influence of animal diseases on meat markets in the well-publicized instances of BSE or avian flu can disarrange markets for years. International trade in both dressed meat and live animals is growing and intensifies the effects of diseases. In an attempt to debate these unpredictable outbreaks, countermeasures are taken to make animals more resistant through inoculations and genetic interventions. These in turn, based on evolving public sentiments in the first decade of the 2000s, suggest secondary market disturbances as nations around the world resist genetically modified products.


Meat promotion takes the form of promoting meat categories generically, thus the Cattlemen's Beef Board's and National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Beef, It's What's for Dinner campaign and the National Pork Board's Pork, The Other White Meat campaign. Meat marketing aimed at the consumer by retailers is based on quality and on price, with emphasis in the former approach laid on the source of the beef and on the USDA's rating attached to particular cuts. Price-based promotion is aimed at price-conscious buyers.

The major segments are consumers viewed as eat-at-home buyers or as away-from-home consumers. The fast food industry's promotions are aimed at the latter; grocery store promotions at the former. Restaurants are the second major segment, with prestigious restaurants buying high priced cuts and mass distributors, like the fast food industry, interested in uniform quality and taste; safety; and predictable price. Industrial buyers who integrate meat products into soups, stews, and toppings are the third major segment and, in behavior, are very similar to fast food meat buyers.


American Sheep Industry Association,

Livestock Marketing Association,

National Cattlemen's Beef Association,

National Livestock Producers Association,

National Pork Producers Council,


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see also Canned Foods, Frozen Foods, Pet Foods, Poultry