What Is the Meat Industry, & Why Is It Expected to Grow?

Nicole Georgiev
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    Did you know that the value of the global meat wholesale industry exceeds one trillion dollars? It’s the largest segment of the food industry and its purpose is to obtain and process livestock into the meat. There are various meat-processing plants that focus on different operations. These can range from slaughtering to processing and also selling and shipping frozen meat and fresh meat. In this article, you’ll not only learn more about the meat industry as a whole, but also meatpacking, distribution, growth, and the wholesale definition when it comes to wholesale meat and seafood

    The meat and meatpacking industry is dominated by a few large corporations. They slaughter and process a large sum of the meat in the US at centralized facilities. The US Department of Agriculture, otherwise known as the USDA, oversees the industry as a whole. 

    Before we get ahead of ourselves, what is the meat industry? This blog post answers that question.

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    What Is the Meat Industry?

    The meatpacking industry involves the process of turning livestock into fresh meat. This can include slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution. Most meatpacking companies these days control the ways the animal are raised before they’re slaughtered. 

    There are different ownership parts of the meat industry supply chain. This is referred to as vertical integration. It allows companies to control the price and quality of their products. Vertical integration has caused the meat industry to become highly consolidated, and now it’s controlled by a few major companies. However, there are still smaller players in the industry. 

    Meat Industry Facts

    Millions of people all over the world consume meat products on a daily basis. It can be through fast food or various other healthy lifestyle choices. The following facts pertain to the meat industry, how it’s sold, produced, and how the industry is growing as a whole. 

    1. The total worth of the global meat industry is more than 1 trillion dollars
    2. In 2019, the top meat producer in the world was China
    3. COVID-19 cases were more prevalent in US counties that are more meatpacking-dependent
    4. Meat consumption on a global scale is predicted to increase by 1.4% every year through 2023
    5. Chicken is the most popular processed meat in the world
    6. The US is responsible for producing the most beef compared to other countries in the world
    7. Tyson Foods is the top beef producer in the United States
    8. 80 billion animals are slaughtered globally each year for meat production
    9. There are 5.4 million jobs thanks to the US meat and poultry industry
    10. Asia is the country that produced the most meat in the world

    Meat Market Value

    The global meat market value is estimated at almost 840 billion US dollars as of 2020. This value is projected to increase to almost 1.1 trillion US dollars by the year 2025. 6% of the total US GDP makes up the US economy, and its impact on businesses due to its meat production and distribution.

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    The Best Meat Producing and Distribution Companies

    The meat and fish industry as a whole is one that plays a large role in people’s lives. It doesn’t matter if people consume the meat or help get it onto people’s tables, there are a few top producers in the US. 

    Meat producers and distributors refer to the companies that focus on beef, pork, and poultry production, as well as other products. Below are some of the largest meat distribution companies in the US. 

    Tyson Foods - Springdale, AR

    Tyson Foods produced more than $42 billion in sales during 2020. They’re known for various poultry products such as buffalo wings, chicken nuggets, and tenders. As the largest meat producer in the United States, they’re also known for producing fresh pork, ham, ground beef, sausages, and more. 

    The Tyson Foods name also consists of brands like Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Wright Brand, Ball Park, and more. 

    Sysco - Houston, TX

    Sysco is a meat distribution company that had $17 billion in sales in 2020. They’re known for their large range of food services, mainly meat production, and food preparation. A lot of Sysco products go to restaurants, schools, hotels, healthcare facilities, and more. They’re a wholesaler that supplies fresh meats and prepared foods in bulk. 

    Some of Sysco’s specialties are fresh pork, beef, ham, sausages, lamb, deli meat, and more. They also have private label meat products, similar to Amazon private labels

    Perdue Farms - Salisbury, MD

    Perdue Farms made more than $7 billion in sales during the year 2020. They’re a household name and work as a direct-to-consumer company. Perdue Farms is commonly known for its chicken products that include both raw and pre-made poultry products. Aside from that, they also make pork and turkey. 

    The company originally started as a family business in 1920. They have numerous locations in the US, mainly in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Perdue Farms employs more than 21,000 people. 

    Why COVID-19 Boosted Online Sales of Meat Products

    The Coronavirus pandemic affected the world in more ways than one. It also leads to new consumer shopping behaviors and an increase in online meat purchases. There was almost an 80% increase in meat sales during the week of March 15, 2020. This led to empty shelves. Ever since then, the supply on the shelves has replenished, but the meat sales are still quite high. A year later, meat sales are up more than 17%. 

    Due to the social distancing mandates put in place for the pandemic, consumers were pushed to make more online grocery purchases. This didn’t stop them from purchasing their regular meat orders. Before the pandemic, 32% of consumers purchased meat online through various eCommerce platforms. Since the pandemic, 21% were purchasing meat online and 8% intended to do so in the coming month. 

    Online meat distributors have noticed the increase firsthand. ButcherBox, an online meat delivery subscription platform, had to put new customers on their waitlist. After they saw a large increase in demand, they started to waitlist people. This decision was easy to make since the waitlist ensured they could focus on existing customers and still not overwhelm the meat supply. A few months after the start of the pandemic, they were able to gradually open up the waitlist.

    A brick and mortar shop also adopted the waitlist strategy for their online orders. This is because their systems were overwhelmed with new orders thanks to the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic forced e-commerce to get ahead of all predictions regarding adoption rates. That trend is likely to continue even after life returns to normal. 

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    Trends for Growth In the Industry

    If this blog post answered, "What is the meat industry?" We have done our job. At the moment, trends show that the meat and meatpacking industry will continue to increase as will shipping food. They can also continue to expand into plant-based meat products. These products can include lab-grown meat substitutes.

    Despite the negative environmental impacts on meat production, meat consumption is increasing. This is also due to population growth. These impacts have raised awareness amongst consumers regarding meat production and animal treatment as a whole. There has been an increase in interest in organic products that have also become more affordable. 

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