Per-capita consumption of red meat in the United States, measured by dividing the total red meat disappearance on a retail weight basis by the U.S. mid-year population, declined in 2000 according to the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

LMIC analysts say that during 2000, per-capita red-meat consumption totaled 123.7 pounds, 1.1 pounds below 1999's. Increased per capita consumption in beef was offset by decreased consumption of pork, veal and lamb.

U.S. beef production in 2000 totaled 26.8 billion pounds, 396 million pounds more than during 1999. At the same time, net imports were 59 million pounds above a year earlier. There were 115 million pounds of beef put into cold storage, 97 million pounds more than in 1999. That equates to an additional 358 million pounds of beef consumed in the United States during 2000. Based on a U.S. population of 275 million people, per-capita consumption of beef in 2000 totaled 69.4 pounds, 0.3 pounds more than 1999.

During the same period, per-capita pork consumption declined by 1.4 pounds, and veal, lamb and mutton consumption also declined.

Industry analysts generally expect the trend to take a different course during 2001 and 2002. U.S. Department of Agriculture projections show beef production dropping to 26.2 billion pounds This year, 25.8 billion pounds during 2001 and 25.5 billion pounds during 2003. Pork production, meanwhile, is on the upswing, as is poultry production. Beef likely will lose some of its market-share gains simply because of shorter supplies and higher prices relative to competitive meats.