“A little competition never hurt anybody,” is an old saying, but it rings especially true when you consider the position of beef and pork in today’s meat market.

Beef demand is up about 5 percent for the first part of this year, but that news isn’t all gloom and doom for the pork industry. Instead, gains in beef demand lead to gains in beef retail prices. Currently, retail beef prices are at or near record levels.

Higher beef prices at the meat case are a positive factor for pork, as the other white meat is a common, less-expensive substitute for high-dollar beef cuts – although, the correlation between demand for the two meats is admittedly weak.

“If demand for beef goes up 10 percent it might increase pork demand only 1 percent to 2 percent,” says Wayne Purcells, Virginia Tech University agricultural economist.

Retail beef prices are expected to remain high into next year, as beef producers have experienced five straight years of herd liquidation, which generally leads to a decrease in beef supplies and an increase in retail prices.