U.S ‘Choice’ Beef Prices Climb to New HighPosted: January 14, 2014
The price of choice-grade U.S. beef at wholesale set a new record on Thursday as already tight supplies were further squeezed by harsh weather that reduced the number of cattle that came to market in parts of the country, analysts said.
Select beef cuts on Thursday also marked a fresh record high for a fifth straight day.
Choice beef typically has more “marbling” or fat, making it juicier and more tender than select-graded beef.
The day’s wholesale price, or cutout, for choice beef hit $212.05 per hundredweight (cwt), eclipsing the previous May, 2013 record of $211.37, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
USDA pegged prices for select wholesale beef at $209.05 per cwt, almost $2.00 higher than Wednesday’s record.
“Tight beef supplies is the underlying principal factor,” said University of Missouri livestock economist Ron Plain.
Packers hiked the price of beef it sells to grocers and restaurateurs after last week paying up to $138 per cwt for slaughter-ready cattle in the U.S. Plains—also a record high, he said.
The U.S. herd at a 61-year low after years of drought forced processors to spend more for supplies. Additionally, ice and snow-packed roads snarled transportation of cattle to packing plants.
“The weights have been coming down and we started placing fewer cattle in feedlots last summer, so eventually we had to tighten supplies up,” said Steve Meyer, president of Iowa-based Paragon Economics….
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