Red meat supplies rise, retail sales of alternate proteins fall

Jeff Swenson
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.

The USDA Cattle on Feed Report released last week showed December 1 feedlot inventories 2.6% lower than last year. Placements during November were 97.9% compared to a year ago. While placements were lower, the number was higher than pre-report estimates. The largest decrease in placements were feeders weighing under 700 pounds.

The USDA also released a Monthly Livestock Slaughter report last week. Beef cow harvest was 5.1% higher than last November, and heifer harvest came in 7% higher. Cow harvest had been running double digits ahead of last year for much of the year.

The Choice beef cutout continued to show strength, gaining $10.27 finishing the week at $271.95 and working higher this week. The cutout value is now the highest it has been since February of this year. The weekly harvest estimate was 562,000 head, making it 63,000 lower than the previous week, but 75,000 head higher than the same week last year.

Hog breeding inventory up

The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report released last week showed breeding inventory up slightly at 100.5% of a year ago. It is the first time the breeding herd increased in two years. Market hog inventory was 2% lower than a year ago, and that was lower than pre-report estimates.

Questions regarding Prop-12 and higher feed costs caused many to expect the breeding herd to shrink. Farrowing intentions for December through February are 1% higher. Near-term supplies are supportive, but prices could be pressured later in 2023 given the increase in sows and increased farrowing.

The pork cutout value was higher last week, pushing through the $90 barrier to finish Friday at $92.06. A weekly harvest estimated at 1.679 million hogs was 823,000 below the previous week and 156,000 below the Holiday week last year.

Cash lamb prices mixed

Cash lamb prices were mixed last week with traditional lambs (those weighing 125 to 140 pounds) $5.00/cwt higher. All other classes were lower. The gross lamb cutout value jumped $10.32 last week, posted Friday at $537.10. The Holiday week harvest estimate of 30,000 head was 5,000 lower than both the previous week and the same week last year.

Red meat supplies, retail sales

Red meat supplies in cold storage are being rebuilt. Frozen pork was up 13% in November compared to a year ago with bellies up 16%. Beef was 6% higher. The totals are still lower than the five-year averages. Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2022, were up 18% from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 22% from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 50% from last month but up 1% from November 2021.

Retail sales of alternative proteins fell about 12% in during the first 10 months of the year. Ground plant-based protein sales fell about 19%, and patties were down 30%. Frozen chicken alternative sales are growing. Strips and cutlets sales increased about 16% and nuggets jumped nearly 28%.

State livestock market roundup

Fed cattle prices at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady to higher compared last week. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $127.00 to $149.00/cwt. Groups of high Choice and Prime lots sold from $149.00 to $159.00/cwt.

The Holstein steer market was steady to higher ranging from $110.00 to $133.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers selling to $140.00 and a few packages higher. Silage fed, under finished or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75.00 to $110.00/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were bringing $105.00 to $143.00/cwt with packages to $150.00/cwt.

Cows were mixed. A bulk of the cows brought $40.00 to $71.00/cwt with some selling into the low $80.00s. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $44.00/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were steady bringing $50.00 to $115.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $165.00/cwt. Beef and Beef Cross calves were steady, selling to $350.00/cwt. Market lambs brought $105.00 to $115.00/cwt with a few to $126.00/cwt in a light test.