Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads

March 10, 2018


Beef processors were banking on middle meats carrying the load with carcass cutout values and profitability. Ribs and loins remained in the buyer’s focus, and competition for mainly forward time slots as well as some spot market bookings drove values higher. Choice Rib Primal Cutout Value bounced 3.61% higher from prior week’s closing value, clearly signaling the seasonal demand for ribs. The Choice Loin Complex on a weekly basis gained 4.73%. Interest for end cuts diminished a bit, slipping 1.75% lower was the Choice Round Primal Cutout value, and 0.71% lower was Choice Chuck Primal Cutout.

Angus Beef

The Angus Beef and commodity beef markets are presently seeing the appreciation Ribs and Loins, as well as thin meats. The increased value of middle meats is largely offsetting the devaluing of some chucks and rounds. This seasonal event where packers battle with sustaining the value of the carcass cutout is on schedule with recent years. Ground beef spot market prices over the past week were largely range bound with week prior quotations. Presently apparent is the trend of better grading of market-ready cattle which continues to make its presence known with both commodity and branded beef markets including the Angus Beef complex. The most recent USDA Choice Grading report has 72.49% of the current harvest mix grading Choice, nearly on par with the same week in 2017 that realized 72.75% choice grading. The anomaly year/over/year is with the Prime Grading percentage. The latest USDA report for Prime Grading percentage on a National basis has 8.62% of cattle entering processing plants, contrasted with this week last year at 6.18% of the harvest mix. The current figure of 8.62% represents a 52-week high, and the highest recorded percentage since the collection of data begin in 1996.


The fresh pork complex extended its lackluster at best performance this week, prolonging a mostly sideways trade pattern that has been ongoing for 5 weeks. Amid the robust production and pressures inherent during Lent, export packages have remained supportive enough of butts and some loin products to produce steady prices.


So far March has brought with it a revitalized sense of need and improved activity in the chicken complex. The market as a whole is in good standing with offerings no more than adequate and sometimes even short of full industry needs. Whole birds and wogs are reported as being in tight supply and actively pursued. Sellers have gained confidence as buyers reach out for additional needs and find they have to pay higher price points to have them covered. In addition to improved demand, decreased supplies are providing challenges. Boneless is in good shape, with buyers of jumbo and medium boneless breasts struggling to adequately cover their requirements. Tenders can be described as being mostly steady to steady with availability adequate at most points of sale. Wing values are supported and movement is good.

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