Plant closures and slowdowns were the main market force for the week ending April 18, and the forces were mostly downward. Two major U.S. beef plants are the focus now—the JBS beef plant in Greeley, Colo. is scheduled to reopen next week and the Cargill plant in Fort Morgan has scaled back production. National Beef’s plant in Tama, Iowa is shuttered as well.
In addition, JBS closed a beef plant in Canada and several pork plants are down as packers seek to keep the coronavirus at bay. How this plays out in the weeks to come will be critical for the beef market.
For the week ending April 18, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 188,882 head, compared with about 237,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 16,520 head, compared with about 20,000 head the previous week.
National cash sales this week included 1,144 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 7,047 from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending April 18 was $102.28 per cwt, which was $2.72 lower compared to the previous week. Last year the same week it was $128.42 which was about $2 higher than the week prior.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $157.18 per cwt, which was $10.82 lower.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $175.38, which was $10.60 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week was 502,000 head, which compares with 642,000 head the same week last year, so two weeks of over 100,000 head lower harvest than last year.
The latest average National steer carcass weight for the week ending April 4 was 889 pounds, 2 pounds lower than the previous week and higher than 865 pounds the same week last year, which was the same as the previous week.
The Choice-Select spread was $11.79 on Friday, April 17, compared with $15.60 the previous week and a $13.16 spread last year.