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Summer slowdown for beef, hope for feeders

Summer slowdown for beef, hope for feeders

By Jamie Martin

The beef industry is currently navigating through its seasonal summer phase, often marked by a decrease in demand for whole muscle cuts.

Jeff Swenson, a DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist, reports that the fed cattle five-area weighted average dipped last week on limited trade, though it saw a late rebound on Friday. Despite this, the uptick occurred too late to influence last week’s USDA reports.

Last week's harvest volume also decreased, with packers processing 609,000 heads, a drop from both the previous week and last year. The upcoming week's harvest is projected to be lower due to the Independence Day holiday, expected around 500,000 heads.

The composition of the harvest saw cows constituting 16.8% and heifers 30.4%, maintaining the previous year's level for heifers. This reduced harvesting rate contributes to maintaining robust beef cutout values, with last week's average at $323.74, showing a modest increase.

On the financial side, the USDA’s recent acreage report provides a silver lining for cattle feeders. An unexpected increase in corn acreage suggests potentially lower feed costs, contingent on favorable weather conditions leading up to the harvest.

This optimistic outlook is reflected in rising feeder cattle contract prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as the holiday approached.

This period, pivotal for the beef market, will also be crucial for retailers deciding whether to replenish beef stocks post-July 4th celebrations aggressively. The industry continues to adapt to these seasonal dynamics, balancing supply challenges with market opportunities.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-sstajic

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