The Future of Meat

- September 25, 2020
Can the industry navigate health and environmental concerns?
Photo of cattle eating at an industrial feedlot in Floresville, Texas. (Getty Images/Bloomberg/Daniel Acker)
Nearly all sectors of the global meat industry face unprecedented challenges. In the United States, a handful of companies control much of the $218 billion industry, making it difficult for smaller players to compete. And the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a high toll, killing more than 200 workers and infecting 42,000 others in U.S. beef, poultry and pork processing plants and forcing dozens of those facilities to temporarily shut down.

New Challenges

New Legislation

1860s–1940sMeatpacking industry emerges in the United States and the federal government introduces regulation.
1950s–1960sFast-food industry and factory farms expand.
1970s–1990sDemand for chicken rises as health and ethical concerns grow about eating red meat.
2000–PresentHealth and environmental concerns related to meat consumption intensify.

Are meat processing workers adequately protected against COVID-19?


Julie Anna Potts
President and CEO, North American Meat Institute.


Melissa J. Perry
Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University.


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Reports are published online 44 times a year. Click here to see the 2020 publication schedule.

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