Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
May 28, 2018
The boxed beef market started to roll over last week in the face of larger production and the continued prospect of same. There was minimal last-minute support from buyers for the Memorial Day holiday and, even then, packers found competition with secondary sellers who were well-positioned to meet buyer needs with more attractive pricing. Choice loins alone edged higher in the face of that broad-based weakness.
The rib complex was slightly mixed. Choice product edged lower while Select generally held steady. The grading percentage saw an uptick in the most recent report, again above 70 percent for the week. This, along with excess seasonal demand, contributed to the widening between the two.
As the calendar wound down to the Memorial Day weekend (the unofficial start to summer and grilling season), beef markets also wound down from recent peak values. Strips, short loins and top butts sustained strength week but rib values backed off, as onboard inventory eased buyer demand. Interest for tenderloins also lessened. Thin meats saw a mixed market. Ground beef surprised a few, as the usual supportive seasonal trend has not developed.
The fresh pork complex historically becomes volatile the week before summer holidays, and lead-up to this Memorial Day was no different. For yet another week, loins remained unsettled, with offerings varying, sometimes widely, by seller.
Butts and ribs both saw discounting, with demand slipping ahead of the holiday as retail and food service needs had already been satisfied.
Central to many conversations was the long and unrelenting rise of whole birds and WOGs. The very limited volumes of these two lines were held with confidence by sellers. Sales that took place were frequently uncovered in a narrow range of heightened values with buyers forced to pay a premium in order to secure their needs. Bone-in breasts and bone-in breast fronts were in good shape. Jumbo boneless breast offerings remained steady at current level while selected small breast lines were a bit more challenged to keep up with an active pull.