In June, beef prices saw their first year-over-year decline since August of 2010, Statistics Canada announced Friday.
Beef prices had been rising – despite Canadians eating less and less beef – because American producers had been buying Canadian animals to rebuild herds there after a drought.
But that ended last year, says Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois.
“Our consumption per capita has been dropping for the last 27 years in Canada,” he explains. “It’s ironic that prices of beef have gone up while demand for beef has gone down. That’s why the beef industry is on edge.”
Canadians are moving beyond beef in their protein choices, he says.
“They are looking at pork, which is a cheaper protein, chicken as well. Fish consumption is up.”
“You rarely see a study encouraging people to eat more beef.”
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That’s good news for barbecue season, but bad news for farmers.
“The fact that prices are dropping could be a source of concern for cattle producers,” Charlebois explains.
The Canadian cattle industry is trying to develop export markets for beef, but faces what he calls “aggressive” competition from Brazil and Australia.