Is Tallow Consumption Growth in the U.S. Under Pressure?

IndexBox Marketing
The pursuit of healthy nutrition is an acute trend in the American lifestyle. However, the concern about health hasn’t reached the entire population yet, as fast food is still highly sought, demonstrated by the strong demand for tallow. There was a slight shift in 2014, when tallow consumption declined by 1% in the U.S., which didn’t reflect global changes.

According to research conducted by IndexBox Marketing, the U.S. took a 50.1% share of global tallow consumption in 2014. Other countries followed with a considerable gap, with second place taken by Brazil, which consumed approximately 5 times less tallow than the leader. The table below shows the top-10 countries ranked by tallow consumption volume. The U.S. dominates not only in terms of absolute volume, but also in average per capita consumption, which stood at 10.0 kg/person in 2014. This was approximately 10 times higher than the global average value (0.9 kg/person).

It should, be noted, however, that tallow has multiple uses outside of the food industry. It is an important ingredient in the production of soap, candles, and lubricants. Processed tallow is also used for currying, as well as animal feed production. However, the demand for tallow from these consuming sectors is inferior to the demand coming from the fast food chains in the U.S. 

Against the backdrop of the -2.4% average annual rate of reduction in global tallow consumption over the last 7 years, U.S. consumption volume is growing. Average annual increase in the U.S. stood at + 2.9% over the same period. This trend briefly took a turn in 2014, when U.S. tallow consumption decreased by 1%. This is associated with a fall in demand for fast food. Market participants attribute this change to the cold weather and the reduction in overall activity of the population in 2014. Brazil and Argentina also recorded positive growth rates (+ 2.0% and + 3.7%, respectively).

This magnitude of tallow consumption in the U.S. ensures the development of a livestock breeding complex. Almost the entire tallow volume (98%) accounts for the goods of domestic production. In 2014, tallow production in the U.S. amounted to 3,618 thousand tonnes (52.2% of global production).

From the standpoint of opportunities for manufacturers, the U.S. has the strongest position, with the highest levels of consumption and self-sufficiency of the industry. It should be noted that among the top-10 countries in terms of tallow consumption, only 4 countries take import shares of less than 20% (Brazil, Argentina, and Australia, in addition to the U.S.). 

Besides the supply to the domestic market, a significant amount of tallow produced in the U.S. is supplied for exports. In 2014, this value amounted to 443 million tonnes (12% of production). According to this indicator, the U.S. gave way only to Australia, which exported 465 thousand tonnes of tallow. However, a year ago, the U.S. took first place in exports. Over the past 7 years, the U.S. experienced a downward trend in tallow exports, with an average annual rate of -13.2%. Export reduction, against the background of consistently high tallow production volumes in the U.S., reflects the strong domestic demand for products, as compared to the foreign markets. Due to the divergent trends, the share of products supplied for exports decreased from 31% in 2007 to 12% in 2014. A larger volume of tallow goes to the U.S. market as a result. 

Fast food chains continue to develop, despite the negative media coverage surrounding unhealthy food. These chains are a major stimulus of tallow production growth in the U.S, with the fast food market remaining the main tallow consuming industry and continuously generating a high and growing demand for the products.

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