Lead Economist, Animal Protein
Brian Earnest is lead economist for animal protein in CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange research division. He provides market and industry research for the poultry, pork and beef sectors. Mr. Earnest has more than 10 years of industry and consulting experience. Prior to joining CoBank, he was senior commodity analyst, poultry, with IHS Markit’s Food and Agricultural Commodities Economics group. Mr. Earnest provided forecasting and price risk strategies, client service, as well as project consulting in the poultry and egg space. He previously held various procurement and advisory roles with Topco Associates, LLC, a retail food industry cooperative.
Mr. Earnest holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Eastern Illinois University.
Across the board in animal protein, producers have been dealing with input inflation. Pork
producers in particular have been struggling, as hog values languished through mid-year and
have not kept pace with costs.
Despite predictions for a slowdown, the U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. Jobs are plentiful, asset values are near all-time highs, and consumers are spending
In the years since COVID impacted consumers’ spending, the where, what and why of their decision-making process has been through a massive shift. For Americans, the product scarcity of the first and second quarters of 2020 proved paramount in what they put into their grocery carts.
Effects from higher interest rates are permeating rural industries
Chicken Wings and Breast Meat Set to Offer Reprieve for Inflation-Weary Consumers
The war in Ukraine and inflation will remain the two biggest factors for commodity
markets in the first half of 2023.
The Russia-Ukraine war, surging inflation, and an energy crisis joined the COVID-19 pandemic this year as major events defining the operating environment for U.S. companies. We can expect to feel the aftershocks in 2023.
After grappling with staff shortages, plant closures, and supply issues, the turkey industry has been hit by yet another problem in 2022: the worst Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in U.S. history.
Despite ongoing impacts from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lingering supply chain
effects from the pandemic, the U.S. economy remains incredibly resilient.
Seven years after the last outbreak, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza emerged again in 2022 in U.S. commercial poultry flocks. More than 40 million birds have been depopulated, disrupting supplies of eggs and turkey in particular.
Now that the universal federal free lunch program of the pandemic era has ended, more parents may be packing their kids’ back-to-school lunches — and facing sticker shock in the deli aisle.
Fears of higher rates and weakening economic conditions
linger over the year’s second half.
In 2021 the market for proteins witnessed a new type of consumer, one who is less sensitive to higher retail meat prices and more interested in
U.S. egg producers have been hard-pressed in the past two years to align supplies with market demand. The flock typically expands ahead of demand for Easter and contracts during the summer months when interest wanes.
Against all hope for a better start to 2022, omicron has crashed the New Year’s party. Renewed supply chain disruptions are being felt throughout the economy, causing empty shelves again and threatening to fan the flames of inflation.
As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is still in control of the economy.
For more than a decade, free trade has become decidedly less popular in the U.S. Unfortunately for U.S. meat exporters, the rest of the world continues to make headway on trade agreements that threaten to put U.S. producers at a disadvantage in global markets.
Businesses of all sizes and across most industries are wrestling with perhaps the worst supply chain bottlenecks to date