By Hallie Detrick
November 13, 2018

We’ve all heard that the U.S.-China trade war is affecting the bottom line for American manufacturers, farmers, and investors, but now it looks like high tariffs could affect American waistlines as well.

As Reuters reports, declining exports of pork and beef to China and Mexico have left suppliers with a glut at home, boosting supply, depressing price, and making U.S. consumers choose pork and beef products over chicken—a sudden change of taste which could break chicken producers’ 27-quarter profitable streak.

American meat consumption was already predicted to hit a record high in 2018 as animal feed costs fell, driving up production and reducing the price at the tills. Even at the beginning of the year, the average American was expected to eat twice the recommended intake of meat in 2018. Now the trade war may be tilting that consumption more towards red meats, which nutritionists recommend limiting.

The effects of these tariffs on American tastes may carry over into the new year. The Department of Agriculture expects chicken consumption to rise by only 1.2% next year, compared to gains of 4.3% for pork and 2.6% for beef. Tyson, one of the country’s largest chicken producers, has already revised down its 2018 profit forecast, citing uncertainty in trade policies.

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