Now add another all-American mainstay: meat.
According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, more than 2.5 billion pounds of U.S. beef, pork, and poultry are currently in cold storage, waiting for buyers. One analyst told the Journal that those stockpiles, combined with modest U.S. demand growth and serious uncertainty surrounding export conditions, could lead to “one of the biggest corrections we’ve seen in the industry in several years.”
Some meat packers are canceling investment and expansion plans in the U.S., while others are reportedly scaling back production. Storage facilities, meanwhile, are reportedly running out of room to store the near-record amounts of excess meat.
Part of the glut is thanks to long-term overproduction caused by declining feed costs. U.S. meat production has been rising steadily for nearly a decade, and will reach a record 102.7 billion pounds this year, according to USDA projections.
But the best prospect for selling all that meat — exporting it — has hit a snag courtesy of President Donald Trump. Trump’s trade war has driven up tariffs on U.S. meat in major foreign markets including Mexico, China, and Canada. China imposed a 25-percent tariff on American pork in April, and raised it to a staggering 62 percent this month. According to the Journal, prices for pork products have increased sharply there, and exports from the U.S. declined by 18 percent in the first half of 2018. The largest market for U.S. pork, Mexico, doubled its pork tariff to 20 percent on June 5.
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