Murphy: What’s Ahead in 2018


Dan Murphy, Opinion, FarmJournal's Pork

January 2, 2018


In honor of 2018, here are my obligatory predictions for 2018.


I’ll limit them to three, since that’s not only a magic number when it comes to remembering any data set, but more to the point, who wants to wade through a bunch of off-the-cuff guesswork for the year ahead, with no way to call the columnist onto the carpet when three-quarters of his bonehead statements fail to materialize?


(That was a rhetorical question).


1). The Shamburger Revolution will continue. Thanks to a combination of media fascination, a bunch of super-rich entrepreneurs with plenty of cash to throw around in exchange for a bump in their celebrity status and the bottomless appetite of an affluent segment of the American public for anything new and different in the culinary realm, there will be more product introductions, more sophisticated marketing campaigns and a continuing series of stories online and on cable shows about the wonders of plant-based, test-tube, factory food alternatives to animal products. They’ll continue to be overpriced and underperforming and limited to a tiny slice of upper-income consumers willing to pay premium prices for faux foods — but you won’t know it from the breathless media coverage.


2). The demonization of animal ag will continue. Not only has the meat-causes-cancer/diabetes/early mortality positioning become conventional “wisdom,” but the eco-shaming of beef and pork has evolved from novelty news story to mainstream mantra. Climate change is a genuine threat to agriculture, if not civilization, but the wide-eyed speculation that getting rid of livestock would somehow solve the world’s environmental issues will remain as anti-industry activists’ principal talking point. It won’t have much effect on consumption patterns, especially globally — more on that in a moment — but the danger that the public simply stops thinking critically and accepts that meat is the bad guy in any debate about environmental issues will remain real and urgent.


3). The increase in global meat consumption will continue...