Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
May 12, 2018
The boxed beef market saw the week open with a steady-to-slightly firmer trend, giving way to a relatively flat/sideways tone. Recently, ribs and loins were pushing carcass cutouts higher, but as the week progressed, loins were the stronger performer of the middle meat primals. End cuts displayed a rather steady tone; chuck roll discounts offset the strength realized by the inside round. Trading volumes have increased as weather improved in several important population areas of the U.S.
Spring demand finally reached a level that made sense for both beef processors and buyers from the retail sector of beef markets. Large wholesale price gains continued to happen with Angus beef ribs and loins, as packers entered a seasonal time frame where strong pre-sold inventory positions were the norm. End cuts mostly strengthened; whole muscle cut grinds lent support to spot market values of both chucks and rounds. Angus ground beef values on weekly price quote were mixed.
In the fresh pork complex, loins remained quite unsettled. Bone-ins were trading in wide ranges while boneless remained under pressure due to fully adequate availability for the current call. Butts were generally sideways after early-week gains, seeming to have lost some steam in the latter part of the week following their sharp rally. Ribs were supported for much of the week on seasonal interest. However, that same enthusiasm has yet to spread to boneless loins, which were barely steady yet again last week.
WOGs and whole birds were the central focus for almost all dialogue. As buyers scrambled to fill their needs in anticipation of Mother’s Day, suppliers remained challenged in their ability to keep up with such active demand. The recent advance in values prompted some debate as to how high the market would go before “hitting a wall”. Elsewhere in the complex, demand for items such as boneless breasts, tenders and wings was surprisingly neutral especially considering the springtime weather that graced much of the U.S. Medium and select breast meat were well established while sales activity of jumbo product was a bit mixed. Tenders were in decent shape with a slow and steady pull, especially from further processors. Wing sales were quiet, despite being a common topic of conversation. Legs and thighs were balanced and sufficient in meeting most needs.