Negotiated cash fed cattle trade and demand were moderate in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt through Friday afternoon. Elsewhere, trade was mostly inactive on light demand, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
By the end of the week, live prices were $2 higher in the Southern Plains at $117/cwt., $2 higher in Nebraska at mostly $118 (some up to $121) and $3-$4 higher in the western Corn Belt at $119-$120. Dressed trade was $5 higher at $190.
Futures markets were closed Friday, in observance of Good Friday. Feeder Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, week to week on Thursday. Live Cattle futures closed $1.04 higher, buoyed by escalating wholesale beef values, stronger cash prices and continued strength in Lean Hogs.
Choice was boxed beef cutout value $2.88 higher Friday afternoon at $252.85/cwt. Select was $2.27 higher at $246.97.
Estimated total cattle slaughter the week ending April 3 was 609,000 head, which was 40,000 head fewer than the previous week, according to USDA. Year-to-date estimated total cattle slaughter of 8.36 million head is 295,000 head fewer (-3.4%) than the same period last year. Estimated year-to-date beef production of 7.00 billion lbs. is 152.7 million lbs. less (-2.1%) than last year.
Equity markets were closed Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 533 points higher, week to week on Thursday. The NADASQ closed 502 points higher. The S&P 500 was up 110 points.
Wholesale beef values continue to climb higher and faster than many expected.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $15.19 higher week to week on Friday at $252.85/cwt. Select was $19.20 higher at $246.97. That’s $22.86 higher for Choice over the last two weeks; $27.02 higher for Select.
“The two drivers of higher beef prices are likely restaurants increasing dining capacity and consumers continuing to use discretionary spending on their eating experience, since many do not feel comfortable traveling yet. How these factors change as an increasing number of Americans get a coronavirus vaccine will be determined in coming months.” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments.
Consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for ribeye steak and ground beef at retail increased month to month in March, according to the Meat Demand Monitor (MDM), which tracks U.S. consumer preferences, views, and demand for meat with separate analysis for retail and food service channels.
Specifically, WTP for ribeye (retail) increased by $1.42 to $17.21 in March. WTP for ground beef (retail) increased by 76¢ to $8.05. For perspective, WTP also increased for pork chops, bacon and chicken breast. It declined for plant-based patties.
The MDM is a monthly online survey with a sample of over 2,000 respondents reflecting the national population. Agricultural economists Glynn Tonsor at Kansas State University and Jayson Lusk at Purdue University maintain the MDM, which is funded in part by the national beef checkoff and the national pork checkoff.
“The combined beef and pork projected market shares for March are 31% and 21%, respectively, at the grocery store; 38% and 14% at the restaurant,” according to the latest MDM report. “Taste, Freshness, Safety, and Price remain most important when purchasing protein.”