Price of steaks, higher end cuts moderating

Jeff Swenson

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

Jeff Swenson

Fed cattle negotiated trade was slow to develop early in the week. Sales at auction markets indicated prices steady to higher with the previous week’s higher trade.

The Choice beef cutout was $3.50 lower by Friday at $263.37, approximately $50.00 below August 2021. The retail beef price in July was $7.62/pound, four cents lower than June. While 24% higher than July 2019, prices for higher end cuts are moderating. Steaks decreased in price overall with ground beef prices higher than June.

The weekly estimated harvest was 647,000 head, 4,000 head less than the week prior and 11,000 head higher than the same week last year. Harvest numbers will likely decrease the rest of the summer. Harvest by head is running 1.2% higher than last year and beef production in pounds 1% higher.

In the August World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, the USDA raised its projected 2023 beef production by 325 million pounds. That would still be two billion pounds below 2022 estimates. The USDA raised its cattle price estimates for the first half of 2023, anticipating beef breed fed steer prices to average $151.00/cwt in the first quarter and $152.00/cwt in the second.  #

Hog harvest 3.8% below 2021 at this time

Cash hogs were called $1.60/cwt higher last week. The pork cutout value dropped $3.20 last week to finish Friday at $121.83, 50 cents higher than the same time last year. The average retail composite price for pork in July was one cent higher than June at $4.94/pound, 26 percent higher than July 2019.

Estimated harvest last week was 2.338 million hogs, 6,000 more hogs than the previous week and 70,000 hogs below the same week last year. Harvest is running 3.8% below 2021 year-to-date with pork production in pounds down 2.9%.

The USDA expects pork production to increase in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023 according to the WASDE report.

The average cash live price for market barrows and gilts is expected to average $85.00/cwt during the third quarter of this year, but drop to $69.00/cwt in the fourth quarter and $64.00/cwt the first quarter of 2023.

Lamb prices steady to higher

Fed lamb prices were steady to higher last week nationally. Last week’s estimated harvest equaled the previous week of 33,000 head and was 1,000 head more than the same week last year.

Harvest by head is running 10.2% lower than last year and 6.1% lower when measured in pounds of lamb and mutton. When compared to the same week in 2021, average live weights have increased from 117 to 134 pounds. Dressed weights have increased from 59 pounds in 2021 to 68 pounds.  #

WASDE crop yields

The August WASDE report offered the year’s first look surveyed look at expected crop yields. The USDA lowered its corn yield expectations to a 175.4 bushel per acre national average. Wisconsin yields are expected to average 185.0 bushels per acre, up 5.0 bushels from last year. Soybean yield is projected to be 51.9 bushels per acre. The Wisconsin crop is expected to yield 52.0 bushels per acre, 3.0 bushels lower than 2021.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady to $1.00 higher. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $125.00 to $146.00/cwt. Some markets reported high-yielding steers and heifers from $146.00 to $150.00/cwt and some exceptional groups above.

Choice Holstein steers were steady to $2.00 higher at $109.00 to $137.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers bringing up to $145.00/cwt on some packages. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75.00 to $110.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were bringing $107.00 to $146.00/cwt.

Cows were steady to lower at $55.00 to $82.00/cwt with some selling to the low $90s. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $55.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were higher, bringing $50.00 to $155.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $160.00/cwt.

Beef and beef cross calves were bringing up to $350.00/head with a few higher. Market lambs brought up to $130.00/cwt.