After falling from 148.6 pounds in 2004 to 133.5 pounds in 2014, the per capita supply of red meat, poultry, and fish/shellfish available for Americans to eat after adjusting for losses rose to 143.9 pounds in 2017. Red meat (beef, pork, veal, and lamb) accounted for 51 percent of 2017’s 143.9-pound total, compared with 42 percent for poultry (chicken and turkey) and 7 percent for fish and shellfish.
ERS calculates per capita loss-adjusted food availability in a given year by taking per capita supplies of food available for human consumption and adjusting for some of the spoilage, plate waste, and other losses in grocery stores, restaurants, and homes to more closely approximate consumption. Over 2015-17, beef had the largest percentage increase in per capita loss-adjusted availability—growing by 6 percent. ERS commodity analysts point to higher demand for red meat as one of the drivers of this increase. Recovering consumer incomes after the 2007-09 recession and stable or declining retail red meat prices have increased U.S. consumers’ demand for red meat in recent years.
Historical data reveal different trends for different meats and seafood. Loss-adjusted availability of beef reached a high of 67.9 pounds per capita in 1976, but trended downward to 39.3 pounds in 2015 before increasing to 41.6 pounds in 2017. Loss-adjusted availability of pork displays a relatively flat trend over the last three decades, ranging from 28.8 to 33.5 pounds per capita. Veal and lamb loss-adjusted availability is down from 2.7 pounds per capita in 1970 to less than a pound in 2017.
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