Beef: A two-tiered market developed again last week. Live prices in the South were down about $2 at $114/cwt. to mostly $115. Live trade in the North was at $116, with dressed trade steady at $185. Choice cutout values were mostly steady this week, while the Select cutout was a little weaker. Lower values on the Choice rib and loin primals were offset by strength on the brisket, chuck and round primals. Some modest strength was showing on the cutout values in late-week trade. Cutout values may go a little higher in the very near term before trending lower once again into late spring and summer. Weighted average fed carcass weights increased 2 lb. from the prior week, reported at 833 lb., mainly due to a sharp decrease in heifers in the slaughter mix.
Pork: The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture “Cold Storage” report showed total pork stocks at nearly 622 million lb., 2% below the prior year but in line with a seasonal build from the previous month. Stocks levels are usually the heaviest in April and typically near intended depletion during August and then again during December. Behavior is typical this year, without planned deviation yet, although weaker than expected from March to April. Ribs in cold storage totaled 146 million lb., record large for April and, in fact, the largest inventory in cold storage rotation in U.S. history, with a strong drawdown expected through May and June for ribs as the featured pork item on the menu this summer. Trimmings showed a reduction in levels to 16% below a year ago, even though an increase was expected.
Poultry: USDA reported a modest rise of 2.6%, on average, in the broiler-type hatchery supply flock during 2018 compared with the 2017 average. Layer flock expansion has slowed down in recent months. During April, an average of 59.4 million broiler-type hatching egg layers were on hand, according to the most recent USDA “Chickens & Eggs” report, which was consequently 0.2% lower than the reported average for the same month a year earlier. Despite the year-over-year decline in layers, the number of broiler chicks hatched during April was up 1.8% compared with the same month a year earlier. January-through-April broiler chick hatchings reported by USDA were up 1.3% from a year earlier. IEG Vantage anticipates the swelling of placements to encourage production gains largely during the third and early fourth quarters of 2019.
For a more detailed look at the weekly forecasts for the various meat sectors and meat cuts, subscribe to the "Meat Price Outlook." Contact Susan Dahlgren at email@example.com for more information.