Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
January 20, 2018
Beef processors opened the week needing to move end cuts and thin meats, which resulted in discounted wholesale values of whole muscle cuts and carcass cutouts. By midweek, packer attitudes towards offering discounts firmed as a result of advancing futures prices which led to a firmer tone within cash cattle markets. The biggest mover this week when looking at carcass primal cutouts was the brisket primal.
Choice and Select spot rib values continue to seasonally correct lower. Choice rib primal value dropped $2.11/cwt this week, a decline of 0.67%.
Demand for end cuts has eased as the month of January has progressed, leaving chuck and round wholesale inventories at fully adequate/ample levels. Many thin meat offerings have also run into some headwinds given a pullback in demand. Brisket values slipped lower; since the start of 2018, the weekly average value of the Angus brisket has slipped 7% lower. Middle meat values seasonally moved lower, while Angus ground beef found stable trading ranges given a balance between supply and demand.
The fresh pork complex was quite unsettled this week. Offerings varied by location and numerous disruptions to production - weather, holiday and accident-related – only served to exacerbate the issues. Improved interest on a spot and forward timeframe was noted among the loin component. Bone-in and boneless loins ended the week with higher trades. Despite export movement to Korea, butts lost between $3.00 and $4.00/cwt. Spareribs were lightly mixed as participants continue to put product down for summer demand.
During the past week, and for that matter since the start of the year, interruptions curtailed commerce. This time around, the winter weather disrupted processing and messed with logistics in many parts of the country. Both buyers and sellers were frustrated as consistent supply and demand patterns have yet to be established. Those plants that were down expected to make up for the loss in harvesting as they moved forward. Whole birds and WOGs were mostly steady with offerings described as irregular from plant to plant. Breasts and breast fronts continued to be sought after with buyers bidding higher to secure their needs. Legs, leg quarters and thighs traded in a narrow range to our listed quotations. The call for wings was seasonal and prices slowly trended upward. Whole and cut offerings easily cleared full market values. Tenders continued to enjoy decent retail movement and improved fast-food demand. Boneless breasts ranged steady to at least steady. Medium offerings proved to be a difficult buy while jumbo supplies came into closer balance. Thigh meat and leg meat markets were well supported.