Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
November 20, 2017
The phrase “running out of steam” could be associated with the boxed beef market last week. Buyer’s interest waned a bit, and the beef processing side of the market was confronted with ample spot market supplies. Rib values eased as did some end cuts and ground beef. Thanksgiving protein offerings such as turkey and ham displaced retail beef features, playing a role in the diminished buyer’s interest for beef. The USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed reported cattle and calves on feed 6% higher than the same time frame in 2016. Placements for the same reporting periods were 10% higher, while marketings moved 6% higher.
Angus beef has developed a bit of a mixed market recently. Supplies lessened, thanks to the recent developments with camera grading revisions, while demand overall eased, given that retail features of beef took a back seat to holiday turkeys and ham. Ribs also saw a varied spot market tone; down-sized ribs increased in value, while heavy-sized product eased lower in value. Key end cuts slipped lower as buyers diverted their interest to other proteins.
Loin cuts such as the strip and short loin diminished in value, while top butts and tenderloins posted gains. Ground beef demand lessened, leading to discounted trade prices.
The key word for the fresh pork complex was “unsettled.” It is not unusual for the pre-Thanksgiving market to hit some turbulence and this year was no different. Loins declined, due to seasonal dips in demand. Boneless loins were fairly steady. Tenders, bone-in and boneless sirloins fell. A lack of labor available on sirloin boning lines pressured bone-in values. Butts were sideways for most of the week, propped up by healthy exports to Korea.
Buyers traded hand-to-mouth, satisfying only their immediate needs rather than booking ahead. Offerings of medium and select sized breast meats were sufficient to fill all orders with a heavier-than-normal carryover. Sellers entertained discounted bids in order to keep clean. Whole breasts also started to back up slightly. Jumbo breast meat has stabilized for the time being. Processors who would normally be active and in pursuit of tenders went quiet. Instead of searching for product on the spot market, they worked to reduce their inventories. Supplies were ample to burdensome and prices searched for a bottom. The same was said for wings, which remain unsettled at best. Whole birds and WOGs rated about steady. Most bone-in and boneless dark meats continued to limp along.