US – The price of 50CL beef trim Monday night was quoted at just under $50/cwt, down from the mid 70s that the market was trading in early November but still as much as 50 per cent higher than it was a year ago, reports Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.
The recent decline in the price of fat beef trimmings may be sudden but should not be surprising. After all, retail ground beef features decline sharply in the last two weeks of the year and with big slaughter numbers coming to market in early December packers have had to push more product into the spot market – at lower prices.
The ground beef retail activity index this year has been up about 7 per cent from a year ago. In the last four weeks it has been up 12 per cent from last year. We think ground beef demand is good and retailers continue to be interested in featuring ground beef. The price of ground beef at retail is lower than in previous years, helping push more volume through the retail chains.
For week ending 8 December, the USDA retail feature price of 80-89 per cent ground beef was $3.25/lb., down from $3.32 a year ago and $3.47 for the five year average. So while seasonally featuring activity declines in late December, it is generally a short term event.
As the retailers empty the meat case of holiday items in January, we should see an improvement in ground beef retail activity. Overall beef retail activity has been similar to a year ago in the last few weeks and above the five year average. Beef production is up and prices for a number of items are more affordable than in previous years, offering retailers an opportunity to feature more beef.