Monthly Retail Beef Prices Resume Upward Trek

Monthly retail beef prices have resumed their upward trek and are widening the gap between beef and pork or chicken.

After peaking in May of last year at an average of 196.99 cents a pound, prices declined to a low of 187.42 cents in February 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and USDA’s Economic Research Service said.  They then moved up to 192.13 cents in April, fell to 189.81 cents in May and rose again to 191.55 cents in June.

It is interesting to see the distinct but prolonged effects of the 2008 Great Recession on retail beef and pork prices and almost no effect on chicken prices.  The dip in 2009 into early 2010 might be a delayed reaction since the more expensive beef and pork products could be assumed to be hit first and hardest with consumer pushback on prices at that time.

There is another distinct price decline on pork in 2014 into 2015 followed by the already-mentioned dip in beef last year.  These declines are not associated with any US recession but are related to increased supplies of these items as herds grew, said Jim Robb, director of the LMIC.

A rising US dollar as recession around the world decreased US export potential and may have played a secondary role in pressuring retail prices.




For this year, retail beef prices are running below last year in a line that is almost parallel.  And since the 2010-2014 average price rises through the year, and this year’s prices are almost steady, the two are showing some convergence.

June’s retail price of 583.20 cents a pound is up only 7.97 cents, or 1.39%, above this year’s low, set in January of 575.23 cents.

June’s price also was 27.34 cents, or 4.48%, below last year’s 610.54 cents.  It also was 110.71 cents, or 23.4%, above the previous five-year average of 472.49 cents.




Retail chicken prices also are below last year and above average, but they are showing much more volatility.  The low of the year came in February at 187.42 cents a pound after the year’s high of 192.66 cents in January.

June’s retail chicken price of 191.55 cents a pound was 7.14 cents, or 3.59%, below last year’s 198.69 cents.  However, it was 4.10 cents, or 2.19%, above the 2010-2014 average of 187.45 cents.




Cash cattle markets Monday were untraded with no credible bids or offers reported.  Estimated feedlot showlists are thought to be steady to down from last week, which could underpin prices this week.

Cash cattle trade was reported Friday at $117 per cwt on a live basis with some in Nebraska at $117.50, down $3 from the previous week.  On a dressed basis, prices ranged from $187 to $188, down $4.

The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was $2.14 per cwt lower at $202.57, while select was off $1.27 at $191.11.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $11.46 from $12.22 with 114 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Friday was $141.59 per cwt, down $2.08.  This compares with the Aug settlement Monday of $141.17, up $1.60.