This Country Produces More Beef Than Any Other In The World

What's more American than beef? It's in virtually everything we eat, from our hamburgers and hotdogs, to our casseroles and barbecue pits. Yes, there is something uniquely American about beef cattle. It speaks to our pioneering spirit; that ever-present allure of the West.

Still, it's not like it's always been that way, has it? According to Wholey, the first beef cattle to appear on American soil were likely Longhorns brought over by the Spanish in 1534. Nine-decades later, Devon cattle were brought to the east coast by English settlers. Beef has always been with us.

So, if you had to guess, based on our history of red meat consumption, how many pounds of beef do you think Americans consume in a year? A few million? A billion? Try tens of billions. According to Statista, Americans consumed 27.6 billion pounds of beef in 2020 alone. It stands to reason, then, that in order to satisfy American demand for beef, the U.S. should be the number one beef producing country in the world, right?

The beefy numbers of America's cattle industry

Right! The United States of America does, in fact, produce more beef than any other country in the world,12.6 million tons in 2021, to be exact (via Statista).

The U.S. is followed closely by Brazil at 10.4 million tons, the E.U. at 7.7 million tons, and China at 7.0 million tons. 

As one of the country's largest industries, with a value, according to Best Ground Beef, of approximately $200 billion, American cattle are not just produced to feed U.S. citizens, but the entire world. In 2021, the U.S. Meat Export Federation stated that we exported a record 1.44 million metric tons of beef, which accounting for roughly 15% of all beef produced for that year. As a result, we import our fair share of beef from abroad. Beef Magazine, citing statistics from the USDA Economic Research service, stated that in 2020 "the United States has imported 2.35 billion pounds of beef" with most of that beef coming from "Canada, Mexico, and Australia."

Despite massive domestic production, America's demand for beef necessitates importation.

So what does the future look like? It's a bit bleak. The USDA Economic Research Service predicts that beef production will fall 7% in 2023, while prices will increase by 9.4%. In light of this, beef may slip as America's meat of choice in favor of something more affordable and abundant like chicken. Still, the U.S. has a long way to go before it loses its mantel as the top beef producer in the world.