Could better times be ahead for the meat and poultry industries?

Is it possible that the worst of the Great Recession and economic uncertainty is behind us?

Surely, there has been cautious optimism in years past, but in speaking with the associations who represent the different segments of the protein marketplace, one gets a sense that maybe — just maybe — 2013 was a great stepping stone, and that 2014 could be another step in the right direction for an industry that has been beaten down and battered over the last five years.

Of course, a healthy state of affairs is not one for the passive — there remains work to be done across the spectrum.

Yet, with the industry having learned some hard lessons over the past five years, and with processors and producers having responded in unique ways to stay afloat amid a flood of challenges, the tide appears to be slowly, slowly rising — and hopefully lifting all ships.

In our annual State of the Industry report, as always, we reach out to our association partners to bring readers a direct look at what issues are driving each of the protein segments as the industry barrels ahead into 2014. It is the first of our three-part Annual Recap & Forecast Series, which includes our Consumer Trends Report in November and our 2014 Economic Outlook in December.

Click on the links below to access our State of the Industry reports on each of the protein segments, as well as our State of Food Safety and State of Packaging stories. Note that the stories are scheduled to post live throughout the month of October, so keep coming back to check on these stories throughout the month.