Beef: The cash cattle trade was steady to firm last week, with live prices at mostly $115/cwt. in the South and $116/cwt. in the North. Dressed trade was reported at mostly $186/cwt., a little stronger than the prior week. Cutout values strengthened in the week ending May 25 and into the early part of last week but then moved sideways to slightly lower through the end of the week. The Choice cutout averaged $3 higher last week, with the Select cutout gaining $2. The largest increase came from the jump in brisket prices, while the rest of primals also contributed to the gains. Beef production was estimated at 464 million lb. for the week, down 9.4% from the previous week and 0.2% smaller than a year ago. Fed cattle carcass weights declined for the week ending May 18 but remained above year-ago levels.
Pork: With the conclusion of May comes the end of the hogs available under the surveyed March-to-May pig crop report. The U.S. hog industry is now operating under a new marketing period, although the results of the supply available for June 1 will not be made known until the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s next “Hogs & Pigs” report on June 27. The report will reveal the size of the breeding herd and current farrowings as well as forward farrowing intentions. Basically, hogs already are on the ground for the balance of 2019, with those decisions made by producers for the Dec. 1 marketing period. The June report will be for hogs available through February 2020. The results of the report are going to be important for helping to further determine what the U.S. hog industry can expect to process and clear next year.
Poultry: There is a fair amount of optimism rising in parts from the back half of the bird. While white meat offerings are on the defensive, both an improved export opportunity and stronger domestic support are lifting values of leg quarters, thigh meat and legs. Leg quarter values were reported at an average of 45 cents/lb., up 1 cent compared with the previous week. While movement for this cut usually turns seasonally sluggish over the next couple of weeks, the continued market optimism could easily keep leg quarters in the mid- to upper 40 cents. Boneless/skinless thigh meat values have been working higher recently as well, despite the softer prices in 2018, as deboning lines implemented additional automation to remove the burden of tight labor supplies. The fundamental forecast suggests further strengthening nearby, indicating that lows have been set.
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