AS I SEE IT. Special Report. By Bill Helming Economist, Agribusiness Consultant, Author and Speaker West 138th Street #302 Olathe, Kansas 66062

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1 AS I SEE IT Special Report By Bill Helming Economist, Agribusiness Consultant, Author and Speaker West 138th Street #302 Olathe, Kansas (913) For Your Careful Review Special Report No. 2 (SR2-14) for 2014 February 26, 2014 A Major Wake Up Call for the U.S. and Canadian Beef Industries Take Time to Read This Entire Special Report Carefully

2 I have had the privilege and the opportunity to be heavily and directly involved with the U.S. cow-calf, stocker cattle and cattle feeding sectors of the U.S. beef industry since I was eight years old (I am 73 years young now). I have been carefully studying and analyzing the U.S. and Canadian beef and competing protein industry s supply, demand and price dynamics and the U.S. and global economic and financial market trends for the past 50 years. I have had many people in the U.S. and Canadian beef production and cattle feeding sectors over the years and recently say to me, What we need is for consumers to have higher incomes, better jobs and a stronger economy so they can afford to purchase more higher prices beef. There are many reasons why this simply is not realistically going to happen over the next 25 years and beyond. I have written about many of these reasons over the years, including in Special Report #1, dated February 20, 2014 (which you recently received by ). For those who are in the beef production, cattle feeding and beef packing and processing industries in the U.S. and in Canada and who are waiting for and are expecting the day to come when most consumers can much more easily afford and pay for higher and higher priced whole muscle, middle meat and ground beef products, are going to end up waiting for a very long time, wherein many will end up not being in business 25, 35 and 50 years from now. Beef cattle, beef cutout and consumer beef prices are at all-time record high levels today in the U.S. and in Canada. However, this is because of substantially reduced beef supplies, not because of improved and increased consumer beef demand. This being the case and this is fully supported by the data, more and more protein consumers are going to continue purchasing and consuming more ground beef, more chicken and more pork products and less and less whole muscle and middle meat beef products. The U.S. and Canadian beef industries and producers must find and implement ways to reduce the cost of beef to the consumer. The U.S. and Canadian beef industries can do this. There is a positive future for the beef industry moving forward. That future, however, must include (1) much lower cow-calf production input and maintenance costs, (2) smaller framed and lesser weight cattle, (3) frame scores that are 3.0 to 5.0 instead of 6.0 to 9.0, (4) the use and selection of better beef cattle genetics, (5) the use of much less corn and feed grains moving forward and (5) the use of much more forage and grass fed rations to produce high quality beef, including more ground beef at significantly lower costs. Change in the beef business is difficult, very challenging and it takes time. However, without change, the U.S. and Canadian beef industries will continue to experience continued declining beef cattle inventory numbers, continued declining per capita beef consumption and continued major loss of market share over the next 25 years and beyond. The biggest change is for beef producers, cattle feeders and beef packers and processors to reduce cost and to start paying a lot more attention to what specific products consumers are buying, consuming and can afford to pay for. This is clearly not the case today within the U.S. and Canadian beef industries and has not been the case for the past 38 years. Any industry that experiences and allows a decline in per capita consumption of its product of 38 pounds per person or by 40% (as has been the case with the U.S. beef industry since 1976) 1

3 and at the same time has lost 44% of its market share to the chicken and turkey industry since 1976, is (1) clearly not paying attention to its customer, i.e. the American consuming public and (2) is not making the necessary changes so as to become much more price and cost competitive and economically sustainable on a longer term basis. The good news is that this can be done. The bad news is that it is not being done. For example, for beef cows and feeder cattle that have frame scores of 3.0 to 5.0 have an improvement in dry matter feed conversion of 40% to 42%, compared to those beef cattle that have frame scores of 6.0 to 9.0. This alone represents a major improvement in production efficiency and much lower costs of production. Today, only 10% of the U.S. beef cow and beef cattle inventory herd have frame scores of 3.0 to 5.0! Conversely, 90% of the U.S. beef cow and beef cattle inventory today has frame scores of 6.0 to 9.0. A long-time friend and very good cow-calf and seed stock producer in Oklahoma has a lot of firsthand data and knowledge on this key subject. His name is Jim Lents. His phone number is (580) Selecting and using beef cows and bulls that are smaller and weigh 200 pounds less and that have very low maintenance costs, like what is done by Kit Pharo and the Pharo Cattle Company in Colorado is very important relative to reducing beef cattle production costs. He has proven and firsthand data on this very important subject. His phone number is (719) Using much more grass and forages and a lot less corn and feed grains will significantly reduce the costs of producing high quality and more affordable beef. Bottom line, the U.S. and Canadian beef industries can significantly reduce its costs in a number of very good and practical ways. Simply stated, the opportunity for the U.S. and Canadian beef industries is making beef much more affordable to 90% of the consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Beef product quality for whole muscle beef products and for ground beef, including the middle meats, is not a major problem or issue. The problem that needs to be solved by beef producers and cattle feeders is reducing the cost of beef significantly for consumers and thereby making beef much more affordable and price competitive over the next 25 years and beyond with chicken, turkey and pork. I ask and encourage you to study very carefully Charts 1 through 5 and Tables 1 through 4. These five charts and four tables and the numbers in each of them are very telling and revealing. For example, of the five competing protein products shown in Table 3, all chicken and turkey had a 86% and 69% increase, respectively, in market share in 2013, compared to 1976 (see Table 3). Bottom line, chicken, turkey and fish were the three competing protein products over the past 38 years that had a gain in market share. These gains in market share were obviously very substantial for chicken and turkey. At least 95% of the explanation is with the relatively low costs, low prices and the consistent affordability of chicken. Conversely, Table 3 also shows that the market share for beef declined dramatically and by 44% over the past 38 years. The market share for pork declined 6% over the past 38 years. Obviously the big winner in the gains in market share for competing proteins over the past 38 years has been chicken and turkey. Clearly the major loser in the market share for competing proteins in the U.S. over the past 38 years has been beef. At least 95% of the explanation is 2

4 with the relatively high costs, high prices and the consistent lack of affordability of beef for 90% of U.S. consumers. As shown in Table 4, the percentage increase in all chicken and for turkey per capita consumption was up 99% and 79%, respectively, over the past 38 years. These are very positive, very impressive and major increases in per capita consumption for all chicken and for turkey over the past 38 years. As also shown in Table 4, per capita beef consumption has declined 40% over the past 38 years and this is clearly a major negative trend. Of the five major competing protein items shown in Table 4, the only one that shows a decline in per capita consumption was beef. The per capita consumption of pork and for commercial fish and shell fish was up modestly in 2013, compared to 1976, i.e. up 3% and 13%, respectively, over the past 38 years. As a practical matter, however, the per capita consumption for pork and for commercial fish and shell fish by the U.S. consumers has been relatively flat and stable over the past 38 years as shown in Charts 2 and 5 for your careful review. The per capita consumption of turkey has also been relatively flat and stable since 1990, as shown in Chart 3. Given the factual numbers and the trends shown in Charts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and in Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4, there is obviously a major need and the time has come for the U.S. and Canadian beef producers and beef industries to wake up and start making some very important and necessary changes starting now. The reason why the U.S. beef industry has seen a 44% decline in market share among the major competing proteins over the past 38 years and (2) has seen a 40% decline in per capita beef consumption among the major competing proteins boils down to three words price, cost and affordability. For a very large segment (90%) of the U.S. $318 million population, the price and the cost of beef is simply higher than what most consumers can afford on a regular basis, particularly when compared to the much lower cost, price and more affordable chicken. Bottom line, the U.S. and Canadian beef industries are clearly and simply not cost and price competitive. The beef industry s major competitor is chicken and turkey. The data in Charts 1-5 and Tables 1-4 clearly prove this point. The major opportunity and future for the U.S. and Canadian beef producers and industries is to produce a lot more lean, high quality and safe ground beef and to do so at much lower and more affordable costs and prices. The really good news is that this can absolutely be done and done successfully to make beef much more cost and price competitive with poultry and with all other protein options and choices that consumers have. The present U.S. and Canadian beef industries one size fits all business model is clearly broken. The bottom line wake up call for the U.S. and Canadian beef industries is that if beef producers do not implement ways (starting soon) to reduce substantially beef costs for consumers and to produce much more and lower cost ground beef, then the per capita beef consumption number of 56.5 pounds per person in 2013 will easily go to 30.0 pounds per person 25 years from now or by 2038! This would easily represent another 46% decline in U.S. per capita beef consumption over the next 25 years and a further major loss in market share. Today the U.S. and Canadian beef industries are at a very important and critical cross roads. The per 3

5 capita beef consumption number in 2014 will end up being very close to 53.5 pounds per person or 3.0 pounds per person less than in Within the next seven to 10 years, I presently expect beef per capita consumption to be less than per capita pork consumption for the first time in the last 100 years! As a reminder, in the case of the U.S. beef industry, the consumer demand, purchases and the consumption of ground beef continues to increase and has been doing so since This fact and trend is driven by price, cost and affordability. For example, in 1970, 42% of all U.S. beef purchased and consumed by U.S. consumers was ground beef. In 2013, this number was 57%. This represents a 36% increase in U.S. ground beef purchases and consumption over the past 44 years. This ground beef percentage number will clearly increase much more over the next 25 years and beyond. I fully expect and forecast that by 2040, of the total beef consumed by the American people, at least 70% to 75% will be in the form of ground beef. America is truly a Hamburger Society. The real opportunity for the U.S. and Canadian beef producers and industries moving forward is to substantially reduce costs and make a good profit by having lower costs and lower cattle and consumer beef prices. This is the complete reverse and opposite of what has been happening over the years and what is happening in This is realistically the only way to start increasing per capita beef consumption, expanding the beef cow and cattle inventory and to increase market share for beef in the U.S. and in Canada. If the beef industries in the U.S. and Canada do not soon start becoming much more cost and price competitive, then beef will end up as a very high priced specialty and luxury product like lamb and lobster 30, 40 or 50 years from now in the U.S. and in Canada. The longstanding basic business model for the U.S. and Canadian beef industries is now and has been since the 1960 s as follows: 1. Keep pushing (over time) beef cattle and consumer beef prices higher to compensate for rising beef production costs. 2. Place most all non-beef herd replacement cattle on feed with relatively high corn and energy costs to end up with cattle that will have carcass quality grades of prime, choice or select. This amounts to a one-size-fits-all beef industry business model. A new business model for the U.S. and Canadian beef industries in the years ahead needs to include the following: 1. Beef producers, stocker cattle operators and cattle feeders need to reduce substantially the costs of producing beef and the cost and price of beef for consumers. There are in fact many ways to get this done and to make this happen successfully in the U.S. and in Canada by beef producers and cattle feeders. 2. Over the past four years, U.S. private and public corporate profits have been at all-time record high levels in the U.S. These companies and their respective industries have typically been successful in achieving these all-time record high profits not by increasing prices paid by consumers and their customers, but by reducing significantly their production costs, 4

6 reducing their overhead, reducing their labor force, reducing wages and becoming much more productive and cost effective. 3. Start producing more high quality ground beef and whole muscle beef with the use of much less corn and feed grains and the use of much more grass and forage based rations. This amounts to the implementation of a multiple-sizes-fits-all beef industry business model. This would end up including changes and additions to the present USDA beef grading system. It is true and a fact that beef generally has a good taste and is a high quality and nutritious product for most protein consumers. It is also true and a fact that when the price of beef to consumers goes up, beef consumers purchase and consume less beef and consume more chicken (see Chart 1 and Table 4). This is exactly what has been happening since Most protein consumers purchase and consume more and more chicken primarily because of lower prices and increased affordability. It is not because chicken tastes better than beef. I think most people believe beef tastes better than chicken. However, the primary reason that chicken consumption is going up is because chicken is more and more affordable for 90% of the U.S. and Canadian consumers. This will be even more true over the next 25 years than is the case today. For 17 years, I was on the Advisory Board of Directors of a large-scale, successful and family owned integrated broiler (chicken) production company located in Arkansas. I well remember the many times when the company owners and members of their senior management team would often say, Bill, the rising price of beef at the consumer level is great news for us because we will be able to produce and sell more and more chicken! These comments were spot on and true. The data in Charts 1-5 and in Tables 1-4 prove this point. If the cost and price of beef to consumers declines significantly in the years ahead, protein consumers will purchase and consume more beef and less chicken. If the cost and price of beef to consumers continues to stay high and increase further, protein consumers in the U.S. and in Canada will continue to purchase and consume less beef and more chicken. This is simply economics

7 Pounds Per Capita Pounds Per Capita The Source for Charts 1-5 and Tables 1-4: USDA, Economic Research Service Additional Source: The National Marine Fisheries Service Chart 1 The Annual U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Beef and All Chicken over the 44 Years of = = 94.4 Per Capita Chicken Consumption Increased 99% from 1976 through 2013 (38 years) and increased by 41.6 pounds per person 2013 = = = = Per Capita Beef Consumption Declined 40% from 1976 through 2013 (38 years) and decreased by 37.9 pounds per person Chart 2 The Annual U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Pork over the 44 Years of = 55.8 Per Capita Pork Consumption in the U.S. has been relatively stable since Per Capita Pork Consumption Increased 3.0% from 1976 through 2013 (38 years) and increased by 1.4 pounds per person = =

8 Pounds Per Capita Pounds Per Capita Chart 3 The Annual U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Turkey over the 44 Years of Per Capita Turkey Consumption in the U.S. Increased by 79% from 1976 through 2013 (38 years) and Increased by 7 pounds per person = = = 8.9 Chart 4 The Annual U.S. Per Capita Consumption of All Chicken and Turkey (Total Poultry) over the 44 Years of Per Capita Total Poultry Consumption in the U.S. Increased 95% from 1976 through 2013 (38 years) and increased by 48.6 pounds per person = = =

9 Pounds Per Capita Chart 5 The Annual U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Combined Commercial Fish and Shell Fish over the 44 Years of = = = 12.9 Per Capita Fish and Shell Fish Consumption in the U.S. has been relatively stable since Per Capita Fish and Shell Fish consumption Increased 13% from 1976 through 2013 (38 years) and increased by 1.70 pounds per person 10 Table 1 The Per Capita Consumption Market Share Percentages for All Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Pork and For Combined Commercial Fish and Shell Fish for the Year 1976 The Major Protein Categories The Annual Per Capita Consumption Numbers for 1976 The Market Share Percentage Numbers for All Chicken Turkey Beef Pork Commercial Fish and Shell Fish Total

10 Table 2 The Per Capita Consumption Market Share Percentages for All Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Pork and For Combined Commercial Fish and Shell Fish for the Year 2013 The Major Protein Categories The Annual Per Capita Consumption Numbers for 2013 The Market Share Percentage Numbers for All Chicken Turkey Beef Pork Commercial Fish and Shell Fish Total Table 3 Percentage Gains and Losses in Market Share Percentages for the Competing Proteins for 2013, Compared to 1976 The Major Protein Categories The Percentage Gains and Losses in Market Shares for These Competing Proteins for 2013, Compared to All Chicken Turkey Beef Pork Commercial Fish and Shell Fish + 6 9

11 Table 4 The Per Capita Consumption Percentage Increases and Decreases for All Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Pork and for Combined Commercial Fish and Shell Fish in the Year 2013, Compared to 1976 The Major Protein Categories The Percentage Increases and Decreases in 2013, Compared to All Chicken Turkey Beef Pork Commercial Fish and Shell Fish + 13 Brief Disclaimer All of the Quarterly AS I SEE IT Newsletters and Special Reports that I write and publish, plus my communications by phone and in my in-person presentations are designed to educate, inform and help my clients, subscribers and friends make better and more informed decisions based on key economic, financial market and commodity market trends, problems and opportunities. My entire focus since 1972 has been to inform people so that they can better plan and prepare for the future, good or bad. The advice, forecasts and recommendations that are made herein and in all my communications are intended to be educational, informative, thought provoking and helpful to all my readers and to those who hear my speeches on an ongoing basis. Obviously my advice and recommendations are not guaranteed. I have been a self-employed, well known and respected economist and agribusiness consultant since All my valued clients, subscribers, friends and audiences know that I am an independent thinker and generally a contrarian. Keep Smiling and God Bless You 10

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