Beef prices rise, chicken and pork trend lower

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 190 views 

Beef loving consumers continue to shell out more for hamburgers and steaks as retail fresh beef prices rise higher this summer, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

The latest USDA retail meat price data for May shows Choice beef prices at $6.41 per pound, up one cent from April and 8.4% higher than one year ago. The All-Fresh retail beef price was 2.2 cents higher than last month at $6.06 per pound, up 10.8% year over year. Moving downward retail pork prices were $3.70 in May, falling 7 cents from April and 9.8% lower than last year. The May broiler composite retail price was $1.93 down 6.6 cents from last month and flat against last year.

Derrell Peel, livestock marketing analysts with Oklahoma State University, notes that the higher retail beef prices and lower pork and broiler prices in May follow from decreased beef production and increased pork and broiler production. He said beef production for through May was 4.7% lower than one year ago while pork production for the same period was up 5.6%  and broiler production was up 3.9%.
Peel said there is some surprise at the apparent lack of substitution between beef and cheaper meats in term of retail prices. He said in May retail price ratios pushed to higher record levels for beef relative to pork and broilers. That month retail beef prices were 3.14 times retail broiler prices, a new record beef-broiler retail price ratio and the sixth consecutive month with a ratio at 3 or higher. The beef to pork retail price ratio advanced to 1.64 in May, a new record level and the sixth consecutive month with a ratio of 1.5 or higher. 

He said pork supplies are expected to be high the remainder of this year, which will keep prices down for consumers. The same is true in chicken as production is supposed to be up 5% this year over last. Beef production is expected to down 2% this year compared to 2014.

In the meantime, Peel said beef price increases are likely.