Retail Meat, Poultry Prices Slipping

Retail meat and poultry prices in November declined with pork prices registering their largest month-to-month decline of the year, according to data from the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Data showed retail pork prices dropping $0.12 a pound, or 3.15%, to $3.63 a pound from $3.74 in October.  (Prices have been rounded.)  This was the largest month-to-month drop since December 2010, said the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

The data show that November’s retail price of $3.63 a pound was $0.29, or 7.45%, below last year’s $3.92.  However, it was even with the 2010-2014 average of $3.63.

Retail pork prices have been closing in on the five-year average all year as the average tended to climb to its peak in September while 2016 prices held relatively flat until taking a faster-than-average downturn over the last two months.

The wholesale value of pork in November was down 1% from a year earlier, the ERS said, but Agricultural Marketing Service voluntary data shows the weekly cutout taking an upturn in the last two weeks.  The LMIC suggested this wholesale stability may limit further retail price dips this month.




The USDA’s ERS calculated November’s average fresh beef price was significantly lower in November than in October, but not to the extent of pork.  The average price was $5.54 a pound, down $0.10, or 1.72%, from $5.64 in October.

The November price also was down $0.45 a pound, or 7.48%, from last year when it was $5.99, said the ERS.

However, November’s average retail beef price was $0.68, or 14.0%, above the 2010-2014 average of $4.86.

Retail beef prices have held above the average and below last year every month this year but were closing the gap with the five-year average slowly.  The separation, however, narrowed more sharply over the last two months.  This was similar to the action in pork although not as pronounced.

And, as in pork markets, the wholesale price of beef has risen the last few weeks, making a further December retail price decline more difficult to assume.




The grocer’s retail price for chicken in November was unchanged from October at $1.89 a pound, the ERS said.  However, this was down $0.08, or 4.06%, from $1.97 a pound a year earlier.

Reported retail chicken prices this year have been very stable, the LMIC said, ranging from a low of $1.87 a pound in February to a high of $1.93 in January.  Prices also have held about 3% less than last year.




No cash cattle trades were reported yet this week.  Superior auction prices last Wednesday were steady to slightly stronger at an average of $110.47, versus $110.31 a week earlier, in a range from $110 to $111.50 in the south to $109.50 to $111 in the north.

Cash cattle then traded at $110 to $111.50 per cwt on a live basis, steady to down $0.50.  Dressed-basis trading was at $170 to $171.

The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was $2.24 per cwt higher at $197.63, while select was up $0.62 at $183.67.  The choice/select spread widened to $13.96 from $12.34 with 85 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $131.95 per cwt, up $0.27.  This compares with Tuesday’s Jan settlement at $130.00, down $0.87.