Meat was once in short supply amid pandemic. Now, it’s on sale
- Our country saw shortages of meat when the pandemic first hit in the spring, however we are now seeing supermarkets selling meat for lower prices due to rebounding supplies and exports declining.
- Prices for ground beef and pork loins have finally returned to pre-pandemic levels. According to data from Nielsen, products such as chicken wings and prime rib are now cheaper than they were before the pandemic hit.
- Repercussions from coronavirus have left steakhouses and other restaurants idle, along with reducing meat exports.
- Gordon Food Service Inc., one of the largest U.S. distributors to restaurants, is now selling several beef cuts for half what they cost a few months ago.
- B&R stores Inc., located in the Midwest, were restricting how much ground beef consumers could purchase during the pandemic, but now they have recently put the product on sale at a discount.
- According to the USDA, meat processing is exceeding year-ago levels and contributing to the large supply of meat available that is driving down retail prices.
- However, Tyson Foods Inc. reported in August that approximately one million cattle and about three million hogs are still backed up at the producer level because of processing plant shutdowns that we saw during the height of the pandemic.
- USDA has projected overall cattle and cash calf receipts for producers to drop by $5.1 billion, or about 8 percent, this year.
- The pandemic has caused meat exports to slow; in the month of July exports of chicken fell 2.6 percent, beef exports dropped 9 percent, and pork exports fell 4.8 percent.
- Some meat executives recently warned that the industry is vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact on its workforce, and shortages might return. According to the CEO of Hormel, Jim Snee, the industry burned through its inventory during the pandemic and can’t afford any additional disruptions.
Hay urgently needed to feed 8,000 surviving cattle of Eastern Washington wildfires
- According to the Northwest Interagency Fire Coordination Center, 32 homes have been destroyed along with 11 other building in central Washington where hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned.
- Along with these losses, livestock have been greatly impacted by the fires.
- Many ranchers in the area are now in need of hay and other feed for approximately 8,000 surviving cattle and hundreds of horses and other animals.
- If you’d like to help in some way, you can find information on their Facebook page at Emergency Equipment Solutions.
Tracking agricultural trade: July changes
- July marked the fifth consecutive month and sixth month in 2020 that the U.S. had a negative agricultural trade balance.
- The negative balance in July totaled $596 million, bringing the total negative trade balance for the fist seven months of this year to $3.551 billion.
- Net agricultural exports for January-June this year are down significantly compared to the same time period for the years 2016-2018.
- Imports into North America increased by $784 million during January-July 2020 compared to the same period in 2019
- The downward pressure on the trade balance is due to a mix of factors including retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, weakened global demand thanks to the coronavirus and a relatively weak U.S. dollar.
Boxed beef prices
- Choice boxed beef: $216.22 (+0.58)
- Select boxed beef: $205.82 (+1.88)