Beef Demand Historically High Despite Lower Availability in Canada

Statistics Canada’s 2021 food availability showed lower per capita retail protein (total beef, pork, poultry) in Canada for the second consecutive year. Food availability reflects long term preferences but is not a short-term measure for consumer demand. Demand measures price changes and consumer sensitivities to price changes. For beef, demand in 2021 was historically strong – it is a matter of the right product mix.

Total beef, pork, and poultry availability increased from 2017-2019 but declined sharply in 2020 and declined again by 1.7% in 2021 to total 72 kgs per capita, the lowest since 1970. In 2021, pork availability increased 1.1% to 14.4 kgs after a 15% decline in 2020. Chicken rebounded 0.6% to 34.5 kgs following a 2.2% dip in 2020. Beef declined 7.2% to 16.9 kgs after increasing 1.6% in 2020.

Beef demand was historically strong based on lower per capita availability and higher prices. Indexed at 120 (2000=100) in 2021, beef demand was comparable to levels from the late 1980s. Beef expenditures in 2021 were second only to 2020 in the last five-years. Share of 2021 expenditures were 39.3% for beef, 43.5% for chicken and 17.2% for pork. A surge of beef and cattle exports in 2021 impacted beef availability in Canada. Beef and cattle exports were up 14% Jan-Apr 2022.

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