Last Official Grilling Holiday Approaching

The Labor Day holiday is approaching, marking the traditional official end to the summer grilling season.  Retail grocers needing to secure beef to plug inventory gaps for the holiday features are finalizing their orders, and the beef market appears to be sagging seasonally.

Seasonally, demand for the total carcass tends to wane as the seasonality in production tends to escalate.  Stephen Koontz, Agricultural Economist at Colorado State University, writing in this week’s In the Cattle Markets for the Livestock Marketing Information Center, added that slaughter weights have continued to increase this summer and likely will continue into the fall until the October peak.

The volume of cattle on feed for more than 90 and 120 days continues to run high compared with last year and many prior years, Koontz said.




Last month’s fed cattle marketings were strong through June, and July marketings look to be strong as well, he said.  Heifer markets appear to be especially strong, and beef cow slaughter volumes have been strong through the summer in response to drought in the Southern Plains.

The bottom line is that there does not appear to be an emerging problem with beef supplies, and the steady seasonal increase in volume will continue, Koontz said.

Data show that weekly beef production rose above the previous five-year average last year and have remained above par this year.  Beef featuring by retail grocers has been strong and has been credited by many for this year’s strong consumer buying interest, which has pretty much kept up with the increased production.




Overall boxed beef values tend to drift lower into the annual low in early October, according to USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service data.

But fall beef demand is somewhat bi-polar.  There is strong seasonal demand for choice and prime rib cuts and even loins for rib roasts and steaks, but the end cuts tend to go begging.  This leads to active retail featuring for roasts.

Hamburger consumption also climbs as holiday shoppers pop into fast-food restaurants for a quick bite rather than go home for a late meal.  As a result, many of the end cuts get ground into hamburger.

Events in this year’s other meat markets also appear unlikely to provide substantial relief for beef prices Koontz said.  Pork production will be up a solid 5% in the fourth quarter with consumption up a likely 2.5%.

Poultry production and consumption also are forecast to be up moderately, but the main work focus is on the word “up” from last year, he said.




A few cash cattle trades were reported this week around $109.50 per cwt on a live basis, down $0.50 to $1.50 from last week.  Dressed-basis sales were seen at $173 to $173.50, down $2.50 to $6.50.

No fed cattle sales were reported Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange Video Auction.  Two weeks earlier, 851 head sold at an average price of $110.07 per cwt, versus the last sale at $112 two weeks previous.

The USDA choice cutout Thursday was down $0.85 per cwt at $209.10, while select was up $0.85 at $201.46.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $7.64 from $9.34 with 92 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Wednesday, was $150.29 per cwt, down $0.05.  This compares with Thursday’s Aug settlement of $150.27, up $1.22.