November Retail Beef Price Down From 2021

November’s average retail fresh beef price was less than a year ago, while prices for pork and chicken remained higher than last year.

Although that does not mean consumers are flocking to the meat case to buy fresh beef over pork and chicken, it could answer some questions about why beef sales have held up in the face of rising inflation, a market analyst said.




USDA data showed the average retail price for all fresh beef in November was $7.15 a pound, down $0.10, or 1.38%, from $7.25 in October and down $0.22, or 2.99%, from this year’s monthly peak of $7.37 in April.  The average beef price was $0.37, or 4.92%, less than last year’s $7.52 a pound and $1.34, or 23.1%, more than the 2016-2020 average of $5.81.

And that’s not all.  The monthly average retail price of choice beef is declining as well with the USDA-listed price of $7.37 a pound in November, down $0.05, or 0.67%, from $7.42 in October and down $0.37, or 4.78%, from the 2022 high of $7.74 in April.  It also was down $0.48, or 6.11%, from the November 2021 level of $7.85 a pound but up $1.39, or 23.2%, from the previous five-year average of $5.98.

If consumers are comparing beef prices to beef prices, they may see the slow erosion at the grocery store as reason to continue buying, but maybe not quite as much, the analyst said.  If they were comparing beef to pork or chicken prices, there might be more switching going on.




The average retail price of pork at the retail counter reported by the USDA dipped in November but remained higher than 2021 and the 2016-2020 average.

The average retail price was $4.95 a pound, down $0.10, or 1.98%, from the 2022 high of $5.05 in October but up $0.13, or 2.70%, from the November 2021 price of $4.82 and up $1.14, or 29.9%, from the previous five-year average of $3.81.

The monthly average retail pork price rose steadily all year, peaking in October and remaining higher than last year and the five-year average all year.  It’s common for the average monthly retail pork price to decline in the fall, despite the popularity of hams for the holidays.




The monthly average retail chicken price was reported by the USDA at $1.84 a pound in November, down $0.02, or 1.08%, from $1.86 in October but $0.26, or 16.5%, higher than last year’s $1.58 and $0.34, or 22.7%, higher than the 2016-2020 average of $1.50.

The difference may have been wide enough to discourage some crossover buying, the analyst said.




The USDA reported formula and contract base prices for live FOB steers and heifers this week ranged from $155.91 to $158.09 per cwt, compared with last week’s range of $155.00 to $159.07.  FOB dressed steers, and heifers went for $244.59 to $247.79 per cwt, versus $243.70 to $251.95.

The USDA choice cutout Wednesday was down $4.88 per cwt at $250.07 while select was up $1.23 at $226.69.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $23.38 from $29.49 with 95 loads of fabricated product and 23 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA said basis bids for corn from feeders in the Southern Plains were steady at $1.90 to $2.10 a bushel over the Mar futures and for southwest Kansas were unchanged at $1.00 over Mar, which settled at $6.50 1/2, down $0.03.

No cattle contracts were tendered for delivery Wednesday.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $179.47 per cwt down $0.50.  This compares with Wednesday’s Jan contract settlement of $183.60, down $0.62.