Wholesale beef prices have had a good week so far, topping the $200 mark for the first time since the spring of this year.
Wednesday’s National Daily Cattle and Beef Summary from USDA showed the Choice cutout averaging $200.79 per hundredweight, with select at $184.91, for a Choice-Select spread of $15.88. Those prices were up $1.46 and $1.88 respectively from Tuesday’s averages.
A week earlier on Oct. 16, the Choice cutout averaged $194.88 per hundredweight and select was at $180.85, according to information provided by the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in the absence of USDA reports.
Back in May 2013, the Choice cutout topped $200 per hundredweight for the first time ever, and peaked at over $2.10 by mid month before dropping into the mid $180s over the summer.
Last year, Choice cutout prices flirted with the $200 mark around this same time, but met resistance and spent the rest of the year at around $195. Herd liquidation has left supplies of cattle low, and recent death losses due to the snowstorm in the Northern Plains has furthered the perception that beef production will continue to decline. Also, indications that some producers could keep more heifers for breeding this year add to the supply concerns, as heifer retention draws more cattle out of the beef chain in the short term.