Log in Subscribe Join Grass Roots Action

The United States Meat Industry at a Glance

Feeding 318 Million Americans

The meat and poultry industry is the largest segment of U.S. agriculture. Total meat and poultry production in 2012 reached more than 93 billion pounds.

In 2013, the meat and poultry industry processed:
8.6 billion chickens
33.2 million cattle
239.4 million turkeys
2.3 million sheep and lambs
112 million hogs
In 2013, American meat companies produced:
25.8 billion pounds of beef
23.2 billion pounds of pork
5.8 billion pounds of turkey
286 million pounds of veal, lamb and mutton
38.4 billion pounds of chicken
Top Livestock and Poultry Slaughtering States
Cattle - Nebraska, Kansas, Texas
Hog - Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota
Chicken - Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama
Turkey - Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas

There are 6,278 federally inspected meat and poultry slaughtering and processing plants in the U.S.

Feeding Us Essential Nutrients

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommend eating 5.7 ounces of meat per day as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

  • There are at least:
  • 29 cuts of beef
  • 6 cuts of pork
  • And numerous poultry cuts that are leaner and have less calories than a 3 oz. serving of salmon

A 3-oz. serving of lean meat provides about 160-200 calories plus significant amounts of many key nutrients such as protein. These proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids needed for growth and good overall health, making meat a "complete" protein.

Meat is also a great source for iron, magnesium, zinc, niacin, selenium, riboflavin and B-vitamins that help your body turn food into energy.

New studies show meat can aid in weight loss by providing a sense of satisfaction that helps to control appetite and metabolize food more efficiently.

Feeding our Economy

In 2013, more than 482,100 workers were employed in the meat and poultry packing and processing industries. Their combined salaries total more than $19 billion.

Through its production and distribution linkages, the meat and poultry industry impacts firms in all 509 sectors of the U.S. economy, in every state and every congressional district in the country.

In all, companies involved in meat production, along with their suppliers, distributors, retailers and ancillary industries employ 6.2 million people in the U.S. with jobs that total $200 billion in wages.

Through direct taxes paid, these companies and their employees provide $81.2 billion in revenues to federal, state and local governments. The consumption of meat and poultry generates $2.4 billion in state sales taxes.

The meat and poultry industry's economic ripple effect generates $864.2 billion annually to the U.S. economy, or roughly 6% of the entire GDP.

In 2013 (the most recent year data is available,) meat and poultry industry sales totaled $198 billion.

Feeding the World

The U.S. exported 1.7 billion metric tons (MT*) of beef and beef variety meat in 2014. Export value of beef and beef variety meat exports reached a record $807 billion in 2014.

On a volume and value basis, the top four markets for U.S. beef in 2014 were Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Hong Kong.

The U.S. exported 1.65 billion MT of pork and pork variety meat in 2014. Annual total pork shipments were valued at $5.6 billion, up 10% from 2013.

The top markets for U.S. pork in terms of value and volume were Japan, Mexico and Canada.

The U.S. exported 3.6 billion MT of poultry and poultry variety meats in 2014. The value was estimated at $4.5 billion.

Exports in 2013 accounted for 21.5 percent of U.S. pork production and 10 percent of beef production.

*1 MT=2204.6 lbs

Fast Facts

Average Meat Consumption in the U.S.

American men on average eat 6.9 oz. of meat per day and women eat 4.4 oz.

Americans spend less than any other developed nation in the world on food broadly and on meat and poultry specifically.

See chart for percent of disposable income spent on food at home.

Percent of Disposable Income Spent on Food at Home

Read more at: www.themarketworks.org