By Cassie Fish,

Packers waited until Friday but purchased 91k head of negotiated fed cattle, the second largest weekly trade volume of 2023. Packers had to pay up to get that done, with prices generally a buck higher, though some exceeded that and trading at a new high for the year and move.

Packers have been exhibiting discipline for four weeks, keeping weekly slaughter constrained, last week totaling 629k head. At least one plant is thought to be cooler cleaning so this week’s slaughter may dip back to week before last’s 618k level. Smaller slaughters and lighter carcass weights (steer weights week ended February 18 down 15 pounds from a year ago) have sharply reduced beef production.

This reduction the last two weeks is so great, it is below the 5-year average. Tight beef supplies means record high wholesale cutout values, $33/cwt above last year. Of the major primals, only the brisket is below a year ago and the rib and loin continue to soar above any other time in March. The rib is $91/cwt above last year and the loin $67/cwt higher than 2022. This is important to know because peak middle meat prices seasonally occur in May/June.

Read Complete Article

'The Beef' is published by Consolidated Beef Producers