Retail beef prices have adjusted nearly 10% lower since their peak in July of 2015, and they’re likely to continue lower during 2017.
November’s all fresh retail beef price was $5.54 per pound, 7.5% lower than November 2015. Last year, the average monthly price decrease for All fresh retail beef was 0.6 % lower, with the rate of decrease accelerating during the fourth quarter.
Economists say the faster decrease is not surprising given the jump in beef consumption during 2016. During the fourth quarter of last year we saw a 6.5 % increase in per capita retail beef consumption.
For 2017, economists expect an increase in beef production of 3.5 to 4%, leading to an increase in consumption. The increasing supplies of beef this year will continue to push retail beef prices lower. That will be important if the market is to absorb the additional beef coming to market in 2017.
Lower retail beef prices, however, may not necessarily mean a decline in cattle prices. Economists note that cattle markets have already experienced a downward adjustment over the past few months, and we may experience a period of time when retail beef prices move lower to better reflect live prices.