Peak meat consumption has likely already occurred in the developed world. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that U.S. meat consumption peaked in 2004 at 220.2 pounds per person annually. Since then, demand has declined every year. In 2014, the figure came in at an estimated 202.3 pounds.
But it’s a totally different picture in the emerging world.
China, for example, is now the world’s biggest pork producer, and houses half of the planet’s domestic pig population. The United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute says the increased incomes in China are almost exactly parallel to the rise in meat consumption.
India is experiencing a similar trend. Since 2009, the annual disposable income there has risen by 95%! In turn, meat consumption rose by nearly 50% during the same period.
Other emerging markets are on the same pathway. Obviously, this is great news for those who are involved in the livestock and poultry businesses.
One obvious winner is Brazil’s JBS S.A. (JBSAY). It’s the world’s largest exporter of animal protein, and is a global leader in beef, lamb, and poultry processing. JBS is also a big player in pork, having just bought Cargill’s pork business.
Sun Shining on the Fields
The rising demand for meat is also fabulous news for the farmers who grow grains. After all, all those animals have to eat before they’re slaughtered.
Already, global grain trading was at an all-time high in 2014, according to the International Grains Council, with trading reaching 309 million metric tons (mmt) last year.
As I’ve related to readers before, the crops showing the fastest growth are sorghum and barley. Chinese imports of these grains soared to 11.5 mmt in the 2014 to 2015 crop year from just 1.7 mmt in 2010 to 2011, according to USDA statistics.
China’s overall agricultural imports are expected to rise to 200 mmt in a decade from 120 mmt currently.
But even brighter days are ahead for feed grain growers…
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According to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development and the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, feed use made up 36% of the rise in consumption of coarse grains (not including wheat or rice) during the past decade. But the projection for the next 10 years shows that “feed demand will constitute almost 70% of the use of coarse grains.”
The report forecasts that meat demand – led by the developing markets – will rise by 17%. That’s just a bit slower than the last decade’s growth rate of 20%, but it’s still substantial enough to boost grain trade.
Planting Your Seeds
All of this is great news for the big grain traders such as Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM).
But they won’t have the field to themselves.
China’s state-owned grains buyer, COFCO, plans to become a publicly listed grains trading powerhouse in the years ahead. It already largely controls the huge Chinese market. Just as an example, China buys two-thirds of all internationally traded soybeans.
The UN’s report forecasts that soybean production will need to rise 20% globally over the next decade to meet the demand for feed. That should equal good, long-term prospects for soybean meal. Futures and options contracts for it can be purchased on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
If investors aren’t comfortable dealing with futures directly, one can buy the Teucrium Soybean ETF (SOYB). This fund contains a basket of three different soybean futures.
SOYB has been doing well recently, too, due to very wet weather in our nation’s grain-growing regions. This is likely due to El Niño, which often brings wet weather to that region.
Based on the forecast that this El Niño will be a strong one, more gains are likely.
And the chase continues,