Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
April 7, 2018
Activity throughout the week for boxed beef items picked up, compared to other weeks this year. It did, however, have to do with the widespread discounts to entice buyers. End cuts fell sharply early-week, but the last two days saw steep declines in middle meats. Colder weather and an early Easter influenced packers to clear product until grilling interest appears later in the spring.
The lack of demand seen in the commodity beef market spilled over to Angus beef processors as well. The expectations coming out of the Easter holiday had been tempered by a lull in consumer interest. Colder weather and an early Easter affected the Angus market as well. Middle meats, usually trending higher coming out of most Easter weekends, have shown the largest weekly declines. Grills, still covered in snow, were an afterthought for many. But the weakness was broad-based as chucks and insides also declined. Ground beef edged lower but may have been saved from greater weakness by large retailers, who had features to fill.
The combination of record-breaking production, poor weather, export worries and competition at retail all weighed on the fresh pork complex, making gains very difficult to achieve.
There was a bit of a disconnect between buyer and seller as each played their role. Perhaps the clearest indication of this situation involved whole birds and WOGs. With supply-side challenges still limiting availability, sellers frequently sought a premium. Buyers, on the other hand, were becoming more calculated with their bids. Elsewhere, whole wing prices, specifically the medium and jumbo varieties, started to become sloppy. With offerings easy to find and demand subsiding, values slid.
A similar situation was in place for boneless breasts. While select offerings were generally well supported, medium and jumbo categories were tested. Tenders were in good balance and, with a close spread between boneless breasts values, sellers held product with confidence. The leg-quarter market was in decent shape on the domestic side with small quarters in better shape than either medium or jumbo.