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Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Economic Review
From the Plains to the plate : can the beef industry regain market share?
Russell L. Lamb
Michelle Beshear

Over the past several decades, the beef industry has seen a sharp drop in its share of the retail meat market. While per capita meat consumption has grown, per capita beef consumption has plunged. Explaining the drop in beef's market share has become a favorite pastime of industry analysts. In fact, a family feud of sorts has broken out in the industry between those who think the decline largely reflects increases in beef's price relative to competing meats and those who stress nonprice factors such as lifestyle changes, health concerns, and so forth as causes of decline. Regardless of the cause, however, the solution to the problem is likely the same.> Whatever the cause of beef's declining market share, the pork and poultry industries have clearly benefited. Poultry, in particular, has seen its market share soar in recent years as per capita consumption boomed. Most analysts attribute the success of the poultry and pork industries to their ability to achieve a high degree of vertical coordination between different links in the production chain. In particular, vertical coordination has allowed them to become consumer-product driven industries while achieving significant cost reductions that have lowered retail prices.> Lamb and Beshear suggest that for the beef industry to recapture its lost market share it must become a consumer-driven industry. A critical step in the process is achieving a greater degree of vertical coordination across the production chain. Vertical coordination in beef production may take many different forms. In fact, three alternative forms of vertical coordination in the beef industry seem possible, from modest changes in how beef is priced, to marketing cooperatives and producer alliances, to the most radical change full vertical integration of beef production. Which path of change the industry will follow is unclear, but marketing cooperatives appear to offer the best chance for the industry to recapture market share.

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Russell L. Lamb & Michelle Beshear, "From the Plains to the plate : can the beef industry regain market share?" , Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Economic Review, issue Q IV, pages 49-66, 1998.
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Keywords: Animal industry
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