CME: Retail Prices Rising, Demand Mixed

US - Indexes for meat demand show Pork and Beef to be struggling with sales of Turkey performing strongly while retail prices rise slowly, according to USDA data.
calendar icon 20 November 2012
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Retail meat and poultry prices continue to climb. USDA’s estimates of monthly average retail prices for the four major species are shown in the chart at right. Note that there are two beef prices on the chart —one for Choice grade beef and the other for all-fresh beef which would include Select grade and store specification beef. Some highlights of this month’s price data are:

  • Another new record for the all-fresh beef series. The October average of $4.772 per pounds is 2.7 per cent higher than in September and 6.1 per cent higher than one year ago.
  • The average price of Choice grade beef moved back above $5.00 per pound and gained 2 per cent versus last year and 1.8 per cent versus last month. The Choice price of $5.031 per pound is the fourth highest on record.
  • Lower pork prices — but not by much. October’s average price of $3.484 was 0.7 per cent lower than the price in September but still 0.5 per cent higher than one year ago.
  • Rising chicken prices. October’s average price for composite broilers at retail was $1.870 per pound, 0.8 per cent higher than last month and 3.5 per cent higher than last year. In addition, the average price of whole broilers (not shown in the chart) set a new record at $1.530 per pounds, 16.6 per cent higher than one year ago and 5. per cent higher than just last month. The broiler industry reduced output in mid-2011 but are just now finally seeing some lasting impacts at the retail level in terms of price.
  • Turkey prices were steady at $1.621 per pound in October. That price, though is 3.1 per cent lower than last year and is the result of steady year-on-year gains in turkey output during 2012.

Domestic consumer-level demands for meat and poultry continued to be a mixed bag through September. As can be seen above, our indexes for beef and turkey demand for the 12 months ended in September both show healthy increases while the demand for pork and chicken are both down.

It should be noted that both of the latter are improving steadily with the September numbers being less negative than indexes earlier this year. Why are the indexes through only September when October price data are available?

Because we need per capita consumption to compute the indexes and we can’t compute an actual number for that until October 31 cold storage stocks are published on Wednesday and October exports and imports are published in mid-December. We are still concerned about the impact of slow growing consumer incomes.

Michael Priestley

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