Recent reports in the news media about current U.S. per capita meat and poultry consumption data has created a false impression that because consumption numbers are down, demand for meat and poultry is also down, which is not the case.

To explain the difference between consumption versus demand, Ron Plain, Ph.D, professor and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, has prepared a new backgrounder to help set the record straight.

Plain explains that declines in per capita meat and poultry consumption are due to a number of factors, mainly because of a decrease in production, due in large part to artificial high feed costs related to ethanol’s enormous share of the corn crop.

Other factors include an increase in exports combined with a decline in imports and growth in the U.S. population.

Plain’s data show that in 2011 demand for pork, beef, chicken and turkey combined was up from 2010 and higher than in 1998.