Packers entered the week hopeful that middle meat strength would spill over, as seasonals would suggest. But the cold temperatures gripping many areas of the country kept a lid on consumer demand. Trade, as a result, was more sideways than anything, as strength across boxed beef was minimized. When there were losses, though, they were nominal, as packers managed the supply situation well. The recent run up in briskets and ball-tips led to some resistance and these items eased from short-term highs.
The rib complex edged slightly higher although the strength was muted from early week expectations. This upward trend is typical this time of year as retailers position themselves for shoppers prepared to get that grill dusted off from the winter. The colder-than-expected weather, however, stalled any interest thus far. Strips and short loins also managed to advance slightly, following ribs, all popular grill items that experienced a cold-weather lull. The pace of gains fell short of expectations–last week significantly–but still remained intact.
Seasonal influences continued to make their presence known within both commodity and Angus beef markets. As the calendar progressed toward the Easter holiday (which arrives early this year) and the start of spring, middle meats found support. While rib and loin values escalated, end cut features diminished a bit, leading to a slight depreciation in spot market value.
In the retail complex, the majority of items maintained a barely steady trajectory. Lent and an ongoing streak of poor weather in areas like the Northeast weighed on retail sales. Combine that with record year-over-year pork production and we had a market in which almost nothing saw gains.
Overall, the chicken complex was lively, with a revitalized sense of activity. Although demand patterns picked up slightly, the busy backdrop of the current market was attributable to supply-side shortages of whole birds and WOGs. Factors such as lighter-than-expected bird weights and underperforming hatchability meant that offerings often fell short of full industry needs. Many outlets recorded premium sales with buyers scrambling to secure all their commitments. Boneless breasts were also tight, with price points commanding full market value or better. Tenders trades within range of our quotations, but were no better than about steady as items moved without much conviction. Wings were balanced, though activity tied to March Madness was slow to develop.