The United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service today released its “Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook.” In the study, the agency predicted that Americans will eat 500 million fewer chickens, and 400,000 fewer cows than they did in 2006. Consumption of turkeys and pigs is also expected to drop significantly. While some have attributed the drop largely to rising feed costs, analysts at Counting Animals have measured the compensated demand elasticity (a calculation which determines to what extent a change in consumption is due to rising costs or actual demand) for each of these consumer products and determined that the decline in consumption is much greater than that which could be attributed to costs.

The USDA report follows an October study by the Worldwatch Institute which declared that per-capita meat consumption dropped from 42.5 kg to 42.3 kg per person worldwide over the last two years.