Despite pandemic disruptions, consumer demand for beef at home and around the globe remained strong in 2020. CattleFax said that trend will continue in 2021 and beyond, especially as foodservice operations begin to fully reopen. The data was presented during the recent Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot. The strong demand, combined with expected higher cattle prices, signal an optimistic future for the beef industry.

According to CattleFax CEO Randy Blach, cattle numbers will continue to contract in 2021, and producers will gain leverage on packers and retailers, and margin distribution will be more equitable. Packing capacity is expected to increase slowly with the addition of more small-scale plants, and U.S. meat exports will continue to grow.

Overall, profitability is expected to improve significantly for cow/calf producers. In 2020, total meat sales volume at retail was up ten percent and total dollar sales at retail up 18 percent, with beef's share of the increase in spending accounting for 45 percent or $5.7 billion.

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