CME: CPI Values for Beef, Veal, Pork, Chicken, Turkey

US - We would like to wish all our readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 25 November 2010
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It is human nature to focus on problems and difficulties and often we do not see all the blessings that surround us. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

CME trading will be for the most part halted on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Holiday trading hours will be in effect Wednesday - Friday, with different opening and closing times depending on markets. For livestock products, the trading floor will be closed on Thursday, and it will close at noon on Friday while Globex trading will close as normal on Wednesday and stay closed until 1700 CT on Thursday, 26 November. Click here for full holiday schedule.

The latest CPI data indicated that food and beverage inflation in the US remains muted, up only 1.4 per cent in October. Indeed, there continues to be a lot of speculation as to when the rise in wholesale prices will catch up with the US consumer and what will be the reaction to it.

In the case of meat protein, consumer prices already have responded and, in some cases, are sharply higher than a year ago. The chart below shows the year over year increase in the CPI values for beef & veal, pork, chicken and turkey. The sharpest increase in consumer prices has been for pork and for good reason. Pork prices were especially depressed last year and they are now back to long term trend levels. The October CPI for pork was up 12.8 per cent from the previous year and since 2001, pork prices are up 25 per cent. Beef and veal prices also have bounced back and in October were reported to be 7.3 per cent higher than the previous year. Turkey prices are discussed about once a year in the popular press and this is the time to talk about them. Prices at the consumer level are up 4.3 per cent compared to a year ago although wholesale prices have increased at a much faster pace, especially for turkey breast. For many retailers, turkeys are a loss leader at this time of year and plenty of discounts abound despite the higher wholesale prices.

Still, those discounts likely will be smaller than a year ago when turkey prices were quite depressed. Chicken prices have barely moved at the consumer level, in part because prices did not decline significantly a year ago. In October, the chicken CPI was up 2.2 per cent from a year ago. Overall meat prices have appreciated at a much faster pace than the overall food and beverage CPI. And meat protein prices are likely to continue to lead the overall inflation in food prices. The producer price index for food in October had a reading of 181.2, 0.6 per cent lower than the previous month but still some 5 per cent higher than a year ago. And with livestock, grain and energy prices pointing higher for 2011, consumer prices will likely continue to climb and outpace overall inflation in the economy.

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