What happens with beef markets now that the Memorial Day holiday has come and gone? Will consumers continue to buy steaks and hamburger, or will they revert to roasts?
Consumers now are staring at only two holidays. They won’t look any farther out than the Independence Day holiday on July 4. Between now and then is the pseudo-holiday of Father’s Day.
Father’s Day is less of a celebration than Independence Day, to be sure, and consumer buying will show it. For many, the observance is nothing more than allowing Dad to go play golf without any hassles. There will be little in the way of a special meal for Dad.
For others, though, there will be a special meal for Dad, which often includes beef. Steaks will be a principal part of this, but there are too few to make more than a noticeable dent in retail movement.
For that reason, market analysts see middle meats holding steady into the near future before fading through the dog days of summer. End cuts have some risk associated with spot trading in the wholesale market, but analysts say there should be enough action to underpin prices and hold them within a narrow range.
GROUND BEEF GAINING POPULARITY
Ground beef may gain in popularity with consumers as the Independence Day holiday nears. Already, wholesale prices of some items that go into ground beef are rising in price.
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data compiled by the Livestock Marketing Information Center show boxed cow-beef cutout values rising and showing more strength than is common for this date.
Prices rose above last year’s levels two weeks ago, and while they remain below the 2011-2015 average, they are rising at a time of year when they normally decline. This beef goes almost entirely to hamburger, with only a few steak cuts siphoned off for cheap steakhouses.
Cow beef values show no signs of slowing their gains. This could indicate that packers are receiving strong orders for the product from grinders.
The Independence Day holiday typically is a hamburger and hot dog event done on backyard grills before shooting off or going to see some fireworks. The casual party atmosphere lends itself well to these meats.
Urner Barry reports that briskets also have found support from retail feature activities. These items typically are smoked and bathed in barbeque sauce and are very popular in some circles and communities.
Grinding activities may slow as the calendar moves away from the holiday weekend, whole muscle end cuts values may well find discounting, Urner Barry said.
The summer doldrums almost surely will follow the Independence Day holiday. Temperatures will heat up, making it unpleasant to stand over or near a grill or smoker, and without a holiday to tempt them back outside, grilling interest will fade.
Some outside action will continue, though, keeping ground beef in weekly retail features.
CASH CATTLE QUIET
Cattle traded on the livestock exchange last Wednesday at an average of $132.54 per cwt on a live basis, down $2.27 from $134.81 a week earlier, cash cattle then began to trade at $132 to $132.50 live, down $1 to $1.50. Dressed-basis trade was reported at $208 to $210, down $4 to $4.
The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was down $0.35 per cwt at $245.25, while select was up $1.00 at $219.45. The choice/select spread narrowed to $25.80 from $27.15 with 107 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $145.61 per cwt, up $0.52. This compares with Tuesday’s Aug settlement at $149.25, up $2.97.