Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
August 1, 2017
Cutouts edged marginally lower, with the downward movement triggered by thin meats, some rib and loin product, as well as domestic fat trimmings realizing slightly discounted trading ranges.
The market for ribs was a tad stronger during the last week of the month. Choice rib cutout moved $2.29/cwt up, while select cutout value for the week gained $1.00/cwt.
The large discounting recently for choice loins has lessened a bit, but packers this past week needed to reduce spot prices to keep product moving from their coolers.
Buyer’s interest for fresh ground beef was only fair this week, applying some negative pressure on wholesale values.
The overall tone to the Angus Beef spot market has found some support and now appears about steady. Angus ribs and rounds over the past week posted some slight gains in wholesale value. Angus loins and thin meats from the loin primal remained under negative pressure, and in some instances, large discounts developed. Angus ground beef closed the week mixed; ground chuck slipped lower while ground round and sirloin traded at steady money. Grading of cattle remains strong, with last week’s USDA Choice Grading Percentage reported at 73.44% of the animals stamped “choice.”
The market has been under considerable pressure in recent weeks. First, domestic buyers shifted into a hand-to-mouth buying pattern, then shipments and bookings overseas declined. This lack of domestic and foreign buying has resulted in meat backing-up at the packer level. Availability of most lines was widespread; even considered burdensome in many instances. In recent weeks, butts and spareribs have been the most susceptible, but this week the loin succumbed to the stress seen in the other components. Still, butts once again led all losers lower.
The losses in the loin complex are adding-up, again led by declines in bone-in loins. The balance of the items in the complex were lower week-over-week; the only exception was the tenderloin, a summer grilling favorite. Picnic and cushion values also declined; in-line with the trend in lean sausage materials.
This week in the chicken market, cutting stock WOGs and whole breasts have tested lower. It’s the week of the twos and demand has softened considerably; sellers are entertaining discounted bids in order to stimulate interest. Jumbo breast meat has even, to a degree, faced some pressure. While there are a number of plants reporting trades at normal levels, others are discounting slightly to move product. Sellers are hopeful that demand will pick up as we enter a new month. Medium and select sized meats are still well supported. Tenders and jumbo wings continue to receive an active call. Despite their prices being as high as they are, buyers are willing to pay up money in order to get covered. Bone-in dark meat is generally balanced. Thigh meat offerings are barely adequate to short; leg meat is mostly steady.