Retail Beef Prices Rising

Monthly retail all-beef prices are on the rise, separating themselves farther from pork and chicken prices, showing that consumers are willing to pay more for the product.

The long-term trend also shows a continuing increase in average retail beef prices in comparison with what consumers pay for pork or chicken.

For June, the average all fresh beef price compiled from US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the USDA’s Economic Research Service data, was $5.82 per pound, up $2.06, or 54.8%, from pork’s $3.76 and up $3.95, or 211.2% from chicken’s $1.87.

By comparison, January’s average retail beef price of $5.49 a pound was up $1.92, or 53.8%, from pork’s $3.57 and up $3.63, or 195.2%, from chicken’s $1.86.




The actual divergence in red meat retail prices from chicken goes back to 2010.  Until then, beef prices generally ran about 34% above pork and about 127% above chicken.  Pork ran about 69% above chicken.

But about 2010, retail red meat prices began to rise faster than chicken, and through most of 2011, beef and pork prices generally held their relative values to each other.  After 2011, prices for beef continued to rise, even though pork price gains in general were not as robust.

The exception to the beef/pork relationship was in 2014 when retail pork prices took a jump and slowed the divergence trend somewhat.

However, since peaking at $4.22 a pound in September or 2014, retail pork prices have been on a gradual decline.




But instead of declining more or less in lockstep with pork in late 2014 and early 2015, retail beef prices continued to rise until the peak in July of 2015 at $6.15 a pound.  This move widened the price difference between red meats sharply, and prices have remained at a historically wide spread ever since.

At its widest, the retail beef/pork price spread occurred in July 2015 at $2.38 a pound.

In June, the spread was at $2.07 a pound and rising.




Monthly retail beef prices have been on a slow incline through May but took a jump in June to $5.82 a pound from $5.63 in May.  This new jump took prices nearly to last year’s June position of $5.85 a pound.  Prices had been running below last year but above the 2011-2015 average of $5.13.

Retail pork prices also jumped in June to $3.76 a pound from $3.73 in May.  This took them nearly up to last year’s $3.77 but well above the 2011-2015 average of $3.66.




Fed cattle sales on the livestock exchange video auction Wednesday averaged $118.27 per cwt, with trade in the south at $118.25 to $118.50 up $0.25 to $0.50 from last week.  In the North, trade was limited to one lot at $118.00, up $0.75 to down $0.75.  Lots with one- to nine-day delivery sold at $118.30, while lots with one- to 17-day delivery sold at $118.00.

Cash cattle trading was reported at $118.25 to $118.50 per cwt, up $1 to down $2.50.

The USDA’s choice cutout Thursday was down $0.08 per cwt at $207.65, while select was up $0.09 at $195.58.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $12.07 from $12.24 with 144 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $147.22 per cwt, down $1.94.  This compares with Thursday’s Aug settlement at $152.27, down $2.22.