US meat prices continue to soar

The cost of meat in the US is rising faster than the price of any other food item. Demand for affordable meat is growing, but consumers and other parties are increasingly concerned about the way in which meat is raised and processed.


Concentrated farming

The US refer to them as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), but in the UK we have long referred to them as factory farms. Animals are raised with little room to move and are fed processed animal feed, rather than being allowed to graze, to make them gain as much bulk as they can as quickly as possible. Animals raised in this way obviously do not yield such good-quality meat as animals that can move freely, eat naturally and gain muscle bulk in the way that nature intended. Consumers in the US who want high-quality meat at a low price may very well be driving a drop in quality.

Another issue facing meat producers on both sides of the Atlantic is that of waste. It is estimated that in Britain about 34,000 tonnes of beef are thrown away every year – in American terms, this is about 300 million beefburgers.

What can we do?

As producers, we want to give our customers high-quality products and also make a good profit while we do so. Addressing the waste issue is a good place to start: if less meat was wasted, we could focus on farming for quality rather than quantity. The automation and modernisation of production plants is also important. Food machinery can be used to minimise the amount of waste both during and after production, especially if you use software packages to track and monitor every stage of the process.

You don’t need to totally refit your plant to reduce the waste. A clever option is to thoroughly review your production process and see whether it is possible to buy used food machinery from Clarke Fussells or a similar supplier and combine this with the new software packages available to make your plant more efficient and environmentally friendly.

We would all like to avoid a situation where quality falls but demand and prices rise, with every sector having a part to play in ensuring that we produce consistently high-quality food and that we don’t waste it.