Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads

December 23, 2017

Beef

The two main holiday items from the beef complex, ribeyes and tenderloins, remained under a great deal of pressure. Buyer interest has receded as the time of delivery for customers has passed and sellers needed price concessions, sometimes massive ones, to help with spot inventory. This was pretty much the story of the week. End cuts and ground beef bounced off a near-term bottom and are now held with more confidence given the seasonals.

The losses last week in rib prices pale in comparison to what we saw this week, especially on choice product. Not much more needs to be said that hasn’t been said throughout the week except simple seasonals came into play.

The loin complex landed just softer than steady. But it was really the by-product of just one item, the tenderloin. Prices were nearly 4 percent lower and weighed more heavily the other items, which were mostly in a tight range.

Angus Beef

If we look at last week’s trends in the Angus beef market, it would be like looking in a mirror this week. Packers continued to attach large discounts to traditional holiday items as we butt up against the Christmas weekend. Ribs and tenderloins were ample and buyers needed to push incentives to help alleviate some of the excess. The loin complex bounced in a tight range. End cuts seem to have formed a bottom. Seasonals suggest the next move is higher but most will wait until the turn of the calendar to make large commitments. Ground beef prices are also determined by timing, with the lower end of the range prior to 2018 and upper end after.

Pork

Retail sales, exports and the anticipation of two weeks with interrupted harvest schedules helped support most of the fresh pork complex this week. Bone-in and boneless loins were higher on the week. Butts gained between $3.50 and $6.00/cwt due to high holiday demand.

Chicken

The week leading up to Christmas isn’t very active, typically; this year did not disappoint. Trucking remains a problem as availability has dried up and freight rates are going through the roof. Besides that, it’s business as usual. Whole birds are rated steady; WOGs are full steady and gaining a little momentum heading into the holiday. Breast meat and tenders are hibernating it seems. Both are generally supported. Wings are still mixed depending on size and form. For every buyer that appears to be returning to the negotiating table, there’s 2 buyers that are running in the opposite direction. Bone-in and boneless dark meats are also well supported heading towards the weekend.

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