Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads

December 2, 2017

Beef

Packers thought they did a good job selling into this time period but it seems spot market interest was more bearish than was expected. Discounts incentivized buyers to engage, which helped increase activity. The weakness was broad based. Even the rib complex saw mid-to-late week pushback.

Angus Beef

Much like the rest of the post-Thanksgiving market, Angus beef trade was lighter than usual. The market had a decidedly softer tone given the lack of interest and the rebooting of normal harvesting schedules. The rib market traded lower than expected.

Trades started to drift to the lower side as the reporting period came to an end. The pushback from retailers started to solidify. End cuts were generally lower. The warmer weather combined with a glut of proteins made it difficult for sellers.

Not to be outdone was the leading laggard: strips and short loins. The recent buying interest faded away. Ground beef generally traded steady. The most notable positive news in the market was top butts that started to see increased demand towards the end of the week. This put them in a better position than most other items.

Pork

Trade volume lagged expectations all week and the marketplace was void of any significant price action. Sellers entered the week with some carryover quantities, but were optimistic that a more balanced supply picture was on the horizon. However, given the lack of meaningful trade, they seemed unable to clear current production and market sentiment shifted. The loin component finished the week up roughly two percent, buoyed by the action in bone-in and boneless center cut loins as well as tenderloins. The inability to balance supply was a limiting factor, so modest weakness surfaced in the butt market, which closed the week 0.88 percent lower. Rib items were basically unchanged all week.

Chicken

The last couple of weeks haven’t provided much of anything good to talk about. During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, chicken almost always takes a back seat to turkey and pork – this year was no exception. Now, however, it seems as though market participants spoke a bit more positively about the complex and its near-term outlook. Breast meat appeared to have reached its bottom and sellers attempted to inch their prices higher. Demand for tenders has become more active. Wings started to flap some although sellers weren’t yet ready to push their prices higher – they were just content with the fact that product is moving again. Whole legs, bone-in thighs, thigh meat and leg meat received a decent call with the holiday shopping season upon us and foodservice operators preparing for increased store traffic. Leg quarters were fair. Whole birds and WOGs were generally balanced.

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