The cash market for fed cattle seems to reflect the weather in many parts of the country—gray, dreary and stormy. The feedlot cattle trades were about $3-$4 per cwt lower again for the week ending May 18. What’s more, cash sale numbers were down quite a bit—a little more than half of the previous week.
The cash market is reflecting the sharp drop in the wholesale market. Here’s what I reported May 15 in the Meat Market Update:
The daily spot Choice box beef cutout ended the week last Friday at $221.11, which was $6.25 lower compared to previous Friday and it was $9 lower than the same day last year. It continued to drop to $220.12 on Tuesday, May 14.
The cutout had been over $234 the last week in April, which was higher than last year’s market high, so it has dropped $14 in a little over two weeks. And most importantly, this drop occurred when prices normally increase prior to the Memorial Day grilling weekend.
The reasons for the drop in the cutout are many, as the video explains. But much of it revolves around the amount of product that retailers already have lined up for pre-Memorial Day features. Stay tuned.
Looking at cash sales volume, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 244,216 head, compared with about 258,277 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 62,682 head, compared with about 112,318 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was almost 49,000 head for the week. The packers have 184,000 head committed for May and 247,000 head for June.
National cash sales this week included 27,325 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and had 40,000 head previous week. So, during the last three weeks, that total is still over 117,000 head.
Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending May 18 for the Five Area region was $116.65 per cwt, which was $3.69 lower for the week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $185.87 per cwt, which was $6.27 lower.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $196.58 per cwt, which was $4.39 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 660,000 head. That compares with 668,000 head the same week last year, so it’s the first time to be below last year in a while. During the last nine weeks, however, it is still $132,000 head higher than last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending May 4 was 852 pounds, which was 2 pounds lower than the previous week and but higher than the 849 pounds the same week last year. That makes three weeks in a row that carcass weights have been slightly higher than the previous year. Last year, it bottomed out the third week in May at 846 pounds.
The Choice-Select spread was %12.03 on Friday compared with $13.65 the previous week and a $23.79 spread last year.