Wholesale beef prices ended the week narrowly mixed with Choice product slightly negative and Select a tad positive. Buyers became a bit more cautious as the week progressed as more and more bearish consumer reports came from the retail sector.
Weakness in middles was compounded by softness in end cuts that came quicker than expected. Holiday bills certainly played a role as a reason behind that.
The Choice rib market struggled as production went back to a more normal schedule after two holiday-abbreviated weeks, at a time when demand typically falls short. Select product narrowed as price-shopping buyers switched to a cheaper alternative.
Strips and tenderloins were also soft, continuing the trend of lower middle meats during the first month of the year.
Ribs and loins weakened, supplies of rounds also outstripped demand by a wide margin, which resulted in discounts. Chucks were nearly steady. Ground beef seemed to be in general balance. Packers responded by talking about cutbacks, so the weekly production has been eyed.
Seasonal weakness, combined with storm-related disruptions, resulted in a fresh pork market that was largely in the red for most of the week. Bone-in and boneless loins ended the week lower. Despite heavy exports, butts, bone-in picnics, and boneless picnics slipped lower.
Spareribs were among the few items to actually see price appreciation as participants put product down for summer demand.
The week brought continued efforts to fill in the cracks caused by last week’s Bomb Cyclone on the East Coast. The weather has warmed back up and pipelines were being replenished as plants got back up to speed. Some plants planned to remain running during the upcoming weekend, but others opted to close in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday.
Tenders firmed in view of demand. Medium boneless had a narrow spread with scarce supplies being noted. Jumbo boneless remained steady at most points of sale. Thigh offerings were adequate while drumsticks were been somewhat neglected this week. The whole bird and WOG segment remained steady, although some sizes were short, especially along the east coast. Fresh-cut wings were very steady, but competition coming from the frozen product side might undercut some outlets’ enthusiasm going forward. Legs and leg quarters were rated full steady. Leg meat and thigh meat received a solid response at many points of sale.