September 2, 2018
Every year, my family spends Labor Day weekend at the South Dakota State Fair. It’s one of those family traditions that is hard to beat. There’s good cattle, good food and good people, and it’s been fun reliving a lot of my childhood memories from the fair with my kids.
Labor Day marks the final day of the fair, so we spend it packing up the camper, loading up the cattle and heading home to face the mountain of laundry we’ve accumulated and the other things on the ranch that have been put off until after the fair concludes.
For us, this usually means a quick and easy meal that doesn’t require much effort; for me, it’s a simple pot roast. Made ahead of time and reheated for quick sandwiches, it’s a hot meal I can put on the table for my family with minimal effort, and as September gets underway, it’s a great meal to transition into the fall season.
While that’s our routine on Labor Day, many consumers get to have one last hoorah of summer over this extended weekend, perhaps camping, boating, traveling, relaxing and grilling at their leisure.
And this year, it’s not going to be pork or chicken on the menu; for many Americans, it’s going to be beef.
A recently article written by Lydia Mulvaney for Bloomberg titled, “Americans are grilling more steaks for Labor Day with the economy humming,” explains how consumers are now enjoying beef at record levels.
Mulvaney writes, “A buzzing economy and low U.S. unemployment is a boon for beef, typically considered a premium meat. Gains for the cattle herd means retail prices have fallen. Combine that with grocer discounts for the holiday, and steaks and burgers could be the cheapest they’ve been in years, attracting demand.
“Meanwhile, other meats are in the doldrums. There are record supplies of chicken and pork in the U.S., and even with prices at multiyear lows, it’s more than most people care to eat. Companies including Tyson Foods Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. have recently said that bargains on beef were hurting poultry.”
Beef consumption is expected to rise to 57.7 pounds this year and 58.7 pounds in 2019, according to USDA estimates.
“Americans are hungry for burgers and steaks partly because they’ve been deprived,” says Mulvaney. “A drought caused ranchers to reduce herds to a six-decade low in 2014, and beef prices shot up to an all-time high. The meat was so expensive it forced consumers to cut back, with consumption declining to the lowest since the 1970s.
”Now, even with cheaper prices and bigger supplies, demand still hasn’t bounced back to where it was before the recession. That means there’s still plenty of room for increased buying.”
This is great news for beef producers, and I hope our consumers enjoy their steaks and burgers on the grill this Labor Day. These numbers could represent good cattle prices in the months to come.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.
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