Market Update From the West Coast Meatheads

September 30, 2016

Beef

The boxed beef market had a different feel at the close of the trading week versus the opening of the week. Packers were holding end cuts with much more confidence as the week progressed.

Middle meats were still a bit problematic throughout the week. Retail ads for beef showed fairly attractive pricing for some steak cuts as well as roasts. Packer operating margins remained solidly positive.

After several weeks of a sell-off with market ready cattle, cattle owners saw their weekly offerings sell at sharply higher prices. Traders attributed the bounce higher with cash sales to both higher futures settlements and the improved tone coming from the boxed beef market.

Loin primal values continue to lag compared to carcass primals. Strips appear to have found some stable trading ranges, but top butts and thin meats from the loin sector remain weak.

Choice and Select Ribs saw a relatively stable trading week as compared to the last few weeks.

Pork

The market for fresh pork products, especially loins and butts, received rather broad based support this week. Demand in recent weeks has been active and many sellers reporting fairly solid sold positions in both spot and forward timeframes.

All of this this occurred in the face of seasonally large slaughter expectations. Once again, it was a rather active week with interested buyers remaining late week. As a result, bone-in loins gained another $6.00 to $7.50/cwt on average, bone-in center cuts $3.50 to $5.00/cwt, and boneless $9.00 to $11.00/cwt. The balance of loin items ranged steady to stronger; so did items from the picnic. Butts also continued to firm, picking up as much as $6.00/cwt this week.

Meanwhile, rib items continued to ease. Demand is lagging post-summer and in advance of wide-scale frozen production.

Chicken

Whole birds and WOGs are weak and prices are trending lower. Spot demand is nearly nonexistent; some are blaming this on the fact that it’s the week of the twos, others are just shaking their head in disbelief.

Breast meat is still rated no better than about steady, but it seems the deep discounting has subsided, at least for the time being. Buyers are still approaching breast meat with caution.

Tenders are plentiful and values are unsettled. Jumbo wings are rated full steady, but even they seem to have slowed down some. Offerings are still limited, but the willingness to pay sharp premiums is no longer as obvious.

In the dark meat complex, boneless thigh meat and leg meat are well supported. All bone-in dark meat lines are deemed adequate for fair to moderate needs and trading levels are mostly market-related.

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