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Industry At A Glance: Retail Meat PricesIndustry At A Glance: Retail Meat Prices

Despite markedly higher prices in recent years, beef has been able to outpace chicken in the meat case.

Nevil Speer

December 11, 2013

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: Retail Meat Prices

Both beef and poultry established new record retail meat prices in October. Clearly, that’s an important development with respect to consumer perception at the meat case when making purchasing decisions.

Within that consideration, what’s really important isn’t the absolute price, but rather the relative price among the meat products. In other words, consumers make decisions based upon their respective evaluation of the price/value relationship within the meat case. That consideration invokes the illustration below.

Beef’s retail price compared to pork has remained relatively steady over time. Conversely, though, beef has staged a significant rally vs. broiler prices since 1998 (corresponding to beef’s low point in demand). So, despite markedly higher prices in recent years, beef has been able to outpace chicken in the meat case. That’s been a favorable driver back into the wholesale and live markets. In other words, beef’s pricing power has steadily gained a relatively more favorable position when compared to chicken.


The protein business is competitive. Customer satisfaction is essential to maintaining and growing market share. The beef industry’s success during the past several years in passing along higher prices favorably reflects upon beef’s standing among consumers in the market place. Clearly, the industry has made great strides in recent years across a number of fronts.

However, there’s clearly a limit to pricing power. The enduring question amidst higher prices is, “At what point do consumers begin to push back?” How do you perceive the customer/price/value relationship? How much higher do you think consumers will go before they quit buying beef or other forms of protein? Leave your thoughts below.


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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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