Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
April 28, 2018
In seasonal fashion, the past week saw a sharp gain with cutouts, as the entire Choice carcass cutout market moved higher. As anticipated, ribs and loins were the drivers with carcass values and profitability for the beef packer. End cuts performed at levels that continue to help the packer’s margins remain in positive territory. The value of both Choice and Select cutouts currently trend close to 2% higher when compared to the same week in 2017.
Middle meat values in this category also pushed higher, as the market approached the start of spring grilling and—finally—conducive outdoor temperatures.
Ribs and loins posted big advances over the past week, as buyers lined up their needs for both immediate and forward time slots. Chucks and rounds edged higher as demand from both export markets and domestic ground beef processors improved. Only a handful of discounted quotations appeared last week, with briskets and inside skirts the noted cuts that slipped lower.
Bone-in loins and butt values were supported as seasonal interest started to pick up with the improved weather. Bone-in loins were steady to higher. Boneless loins were stronger. Tenderloins and bone-in sirloins saw big gains. Butts were still in high export demand, pushing prices up for immediate needs. For the first time this year, spareribs were $1.00 to $2.50/cwt higher on the week, clearly kicking off the grilling season.
The past week of business brought with it mixed market scenarios. Whole birds, WOGs and cut-up chickens were on solid trading ground, as buyers stock up for anticipated Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekend demands. A definite trend in product size has developed to favor small or select sized offerings. All breast fronts were in decent shape, but small fronts were rated full steady with demand readily clearing supply. Select breast meat was also tight, with some plants challenged to keep up with industry needs. Jumbo and medium product maintained current price points. Wings remain mixed with trade sentiment varying from plant to plant. Thigh meat and leg meat were steady but lacked significant volume one way or another.