Statistics Canada threw a curve ball on April 2 when per capita consumption for beef was released and showed an increase of 2.5 per cent at 20.7 kgs/capita. Supplies were down 3.7 per cent with lower production (-7.8%) not being offset by higher beef imports, which were up 19.5 per cent. Beef available for domestic consumption was ultimately supported by a decline in beef exports, which were down 17.6 per cent, leaving beef available for domestic consumption up 3.3 per cent. It is expected that the annual production will be revised next year, as the final slaughter numbers were released by the Canadian Beef Grading Agency on April 3. Final slaughter numbers put domestic production down 10 per cent. A revision to the domestic production number to match the current 2011 slaughter data would completely remove the increase in consumption and actually put per capita consumption down 1.4 per cent.
Not only was consumption higher, but retail beef prices were 2.5 per cent higher in 2011 consequently the beef demand index increased by 4.9 points. The demand index measures consumers' willingness to pay. With higher prices you would expect smaller consumption. Even using a 1.4 per cent decrease in per capita consumption beef demand was up 1.2 points in 2011, as consumers did not decrease their consumption as much as the increase in retail prices implied. Higher demand shows a remarkably resilient consumer in Canada and strong support for beef on the centre of the plate.
Compared to other proteins
Pork consumption was down 3.9 per cent at 15.8 kgs/capita, while poultry consumption was down 0.2 per cent at 31.2 kgs/capita. Overall, total protein consumption was down 0.4 per cent from 2010 and is now 7.8 per cent below 2007 levels. Slightly larger beef supplies meant beef captured market share in 2011. Beef's portion of the protein market in 2011 was 34.3 per cent up 0.8 per cent from 2010, while pork lost 1 per cent and poultry gained 0.1 per cent.
While chicken surpassed beef in volume back in 2001, beef continues to lead in value with consumers willing to pay more for beef. Beef holds the largest market share in terms of consumer expenditures at 43 per cent compared to poultry at 34 per cent and pork at 23 per cent.