Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads
April 21, 2018
Carcass cutout values held steady throughout the week and sellers gained confidence as the week progressed. Early-week middle-meat discounts brought some buyers in to trade. The market for end cuts firmed, mainly driven by support in the round complex. Cooler seasonal temperatures have stalled the start of grilling season, putting some pressure on retailers to find additional business. Ribs found support as the week progressed, not because spot market values surged higher, but because recent discounts have proved successful, allowing packers to find a floor from which the rib value could work higher in seasonal fashion. Loins fared a bit better this week, as seasonal demand for Choice product improved slightly. Select strips and short loins did not fare as well. Recent price breaks for thin meats from the loin carcass helped packers move product.
As the calendar progressed towards the end of the month, and as the expectation that spring demand was just around the bend, the Angus Beef market saw a glimmer of hope. Rib sales over the past week occurred at discounted levels, as did many other muscle cuts. A few end cuts and loin offerings found support given a slight improvement in interest for spot shipment. Buyers have increased their efforts to procure grilling items for the spring market and packers reported that their sold position in forward time slots was easily manageable. Ground beef quotations slipped lower since last week’s report, but wholesale prices appeared set to trend higher, in line with the season.
After multiple weeks of poor weather impacting retail sales, it appeared that seasonal demand factors took hold this week, helping to tighten up supplies of loins and butts. Pork production remained historically high, which kept gains more conservative than they might otherwise have been. Buyers saw potential in the recently discounted belly prices, which led to a rally that was slightly earlier than previous years.
Whole birds and WOGs remained in good standing with most activity falling within a close range of listed quotations. Breast fronts were in good shape. A slight but noted uptick in demand patterns developed, especially from further processors.
The undertone for breast meat didn’t changed much since last week. Jumbo offerings were easily uncovered and pressured while medium and small varieties held their own. Demand for tenders remained strong with availability struggling to keep pace. Buyers from retail all the way through to foodservice and fast-food channels contributed to the mix. Overall, wings found themselves on a bit of shaky ground. Small and medium categories continued to search for support at lower values while jumbo was rated no better than about steady. Trade activity for dark meat items such as legs, leg quarters and thighs were steady at best and reflected a softer undertone than what they have in the recent past.