CoBank: uneven recovery in food service is reflected in animal protein sector
The increase in at-home food consumption because of the coronavirus pandemic required the animal protein sector to shift supplies of meat intended for restaurants to grocery stores.
A new report by CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange found that although animal protein supplies are returning to normal and foodservice sales have improved, they may not return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2022.
Will Sawyer is the lead animal protein economist for CoBank.
“While we are ready and waiting and very eager to get things back to normal, we’re going to have lost a lot of that foodservice demand just because the restaurants aren’t there,” he says.
He says foodservice-focused beef, for example, has been impacted.
“Foodservice demand is not there for the smaller, independently owned and full-service areas within food service and that’s the part of foodservice demand that is beef focused—if you think about those independent steak houses across the country,” he says.
Despite the temporary shift, Sawyer says beef is faring better than poultry.
He says beef and pork sectors have some flexibility to adapt to these challenges.
Poultry plants typically focus on either retail or foodservice. He says poultry producers that focus on retail and fast-food chains have also fared well.
Audio: Will Sawyer, CoBank