Younger generations continue to perceive the meat industry as negative, and cattle farmers are feeling the burn.
Media outlet Kentucky New Era recently investigated the reasons behind a major “meat glut” in the state—which, until recently, generated $1 billion in annual meat sales. Area farmers revealed that two years ago their industry was profitable, however, they are now struggling to break even. To investigate the underlying causes of this downturn, researchers at Western Kentucky University conducted a survey of 300 people between the ages of 18 and 25, which revealed a paradigm shift in the millennial population’s perception of meat. When asked if negative media coverage of meat has influenced them to stop eating it, 16 percent of respondents said “yes.” Another 30 percent admitted to having a “bad experience” with beef products. “The urban millennial’s perception of beef is hazy, at best,” lead researcher and cattle farmer Stephen Green said. “These are the young men and women that will be the next consumers.” Various other studies (not limited to the state of Kentucky) have shown that the younger generation continues to make the connection between meat consumption and environmental degradation and ethical concerns, ideas they gather and share widely on social media platforms. University of Kentucky agriculture economist Kenny Burdine predicted that there is no end in sight for the state’s animal agriculture glut, stating, “It may be early 2018 before we hit the bottom.”