Meat’s value to the Pennsylvania economy

My observation is that people seldom uncouple the meat and livestock industries to think about them as separate entities.  I think of them as different things, recognizing that there are hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who cut, process, package, and sell meat who seldom – if ever – set foot on a farm or in a slaughterhouse.  It’s sort of like separating the wheat industry from the baking industry, or the steel industry from the automotive industry.

(Now, whether or not they should be separated is an altogether different point of discussion.  I’m thinking about this as it is in its current form.)

While PA does not rank among the top 10 states with the most pigs nor the most cattle, according to data presented by the American Meat Institute, the Commonwealth’s meat industry is the 5th most valuable (based on total economic value) in the United States.  How’s that work?

There are two major points to consider:  (1) We have a lot of small and very small, independent meat plants that employ many people, and (2) we are sort of a transition zone in that meat produced in the Midwest passes through PA on its way to the population-dense Northeastern US.  There are operations like case-ready plants (the places that transform subprimals into retail cuts and package them for retail sales), foodservice distributors, brokers, further processors (like hot dog and bacon companies), and even the wonderful people that make chip steaks for Philly cheesesteaks.  Such food processing plants are located throughout the state, with many located in its Southeastern corner serving places like Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., Jersey and NYC – even Boston.

What’s it worth?  Below is a sampling some 2009 data made available by the American Meat Institute:

  • Number of jobs in slaughter, cutting, distribution, retail, etc. – direct involvement:  75,915
  • Wages paid associated with those jobs – for direct involvement:  $1,880,682,559
  • Direct economic impact: $9,691,668,528

Add to that:

  • Supplier economic impact: $17,746,556,900
  • “Indirect” economic impact: $11,640,019,221
  • Total economic impact of meat in PA: $39,078,244,649

Those are just some of the numbers – they’re available in more detail on AMI’s website,

And, of course, we cannot forget that according to this data, the PA meat industry generates >$2.2B in federal tax revenue and >$1.5B in state tax revenue.

Here’s a snapshot of the datasheet for PA:



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