Red meat prices stay in stable range

Red meat prices stay in stable range – Food Price Outlook

Patt Patterson

Red meat prices stay in stable range

It doesn’t seem to matter right now to beef prices whether there’s not as many feeder cattle on the nation’s feedlots. The reason for the decline in feeding is that slaughter has been heavy, and replacements have not been keeping up with sales. However, the cattle on the lots are heavier than average, and this means that the discrepancy isn’t as wide yet as the numbers would indicate. But don’t expect prices to hold in their present range forever. Next spring could see a jump if feedlot operators don’t soon start increasing the number of cattle on feed.

Hogs are a somewhat different story. There are more hogs out there right now than there were last year. The farmers who have been raising them have been getting them into market even through the heavy harvest periods.

So prices on pork have stayed stable – and lower than last year by about 8 percent to 10 percent. The difference from the beef picture is that there are still a lot of hogs out there. Farmers are still indicating farrowing intentions are stronger than last year’s. So there should be stable to lower pork prices well into next year.

Poultry, on the other hand, is moving up a little. These last few months the variation in price has been in a pretty restricted range. Now, however, prices are running about 3 percent to 5 percent higher than they were last year at this time. Indications are that demand is strong and producers are still holding pretty tight reins on increases.

A smaller Northwestern Bartlett pear pack has pushed packer’s prices up. Northwest purple plum pack is also down, with prices moving up.

Iceberg lettuce production is moving from the Salinas Valley into the Central San Joaquin Valley, with prices at moderate levels. Heat has caused quality to vary widely. In mid-to late-November the southern desert areas should get under way. Prices look as if they’ll stay fairly stable through the end of the year, barring any disruptions in growing or harvesting.

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