U.S. commercial red meat includes beef, veal, lamb, and pork. Red meat is a good source of iron, vitamin B12, and protein, and eliminating it from the diet can lead to iron and zinc deficiencies. Today, red meat is far leaner than it was 30 years ago due to newer breeds of livestock that carry less fat. The leanest cuts of beef include tenderloin, sirloin, and flank. The leanest cuts of pork include pork tenderloin, loin chops, and rib chops.
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) grades various cuts of meat. "Prime" is the highest USDA grade for beef, veal, and lamb. "Choice" is the grade designation below Prime for beef, veal, and lamb. "Commercial" and "Cutter" grades are two of the lower designations for beef, usually sold as ground meat, sausage, and canned meat. "Canner" is the lowest USDA grade designation for beef and is used primarily in canned meats not sold at retail.
Supply - World meat production in 2007 is forecasted (latest data available) to rise +3.1% to a new record high of 158.103 million metric tons. China is forecasted to be the world's largest meat producer in 2007 with 63.710 million metric tons of production (up +5.3% yr/yr), accounting for 40% of world production.
U.S. production of meat in 2007 rose by +2.0% yr/yr to 49.634 billion pounds, which is a new record high. U.S. production of beef in 2007 rose 0.7% yr/yr to 26.450 billion pounds, which will be just moderately below the record of 27.192 billion pounds in 2002. Beef accounted for 55.0% of all U.S. meat production. U.S. production of pork in 2007 rose +3.7% yr/yr to a new record high of 21.849 billion pounds. Pork accounts for 45.0% of U.S. meat production. Veal accounts for only 0.3% of U.S. meat production, and lamb and mutton account for only 0.4% of U.S. meat production.
Demand - U.S. per capita meat consumption in 2007 rose by 1.8% to 118.0 pounds per person per year, but that is only slightly above the 2006 record low of 116 pounds per person reflecting the trend towards eating more chicken and fish and the availability of meat substitutes. Per-capita beef consumption in 2007 fell by -1.5% to 65.0 pounds per person per year, which was about half the record high of 127.5 pounds seen in 1976. Per capita pork consumption in 2007 rose by +4.1% to 51.0 pounds per person per year from he record low of 49.0 pounds posted in 2006.
Trade - World red meat exports in 2007 is forecasted to rise +4.9% to a new record high of 12.768 million metric tons. The world's largest red meat exporters will be Brazil with 20% of world exports in 2007, the U.S. with 16%, the European Union with 13%, and Australia and Canada each with 12%.