Last week, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) updated its monthly retail meat price data. Retail beef and pork prices continue to set new records. The all-fresh retail beef price for April was reported by ERS at 549.6¢/lb. This is a little over 3% higher than the previous month's record level. The average retail pork price in April was reported as 395.0¢/lb., also up a little over 3% from the March price. Compared to a year ago, both the all-fresh beef and the pork retail prices are up by about 13%.
In contrast to the performance of beef and pork, retail broiler prices headed lower in April, according to the ERS data. The retail broiler composite price for April was 192.01¢/lb. -- a decline of almost 1% from March. Actually, the retail broiler price is now at its lowest point since last April (when it was 191.20¢/lb., for the record).
With respect to beef and pork, retail prices have generally moved in the opposite direction from wholesale prices over the past month. For example, the Choice boxed beef cutout averaged about $10/cwt. lower in April than in March this year. The pork cutout averaged close to the same in March and April, but was steadily declining through the whole month. Not surprisingly, then, the April retail prices reported by ERS were accompanied by higher wholesale-to-retail margins. For pork, ERS reported a 4.7% increase in the wholesale-to-retail margin between March and April.
Still, though, the April wholesale/retail price spread was, with the obvious exception of March, the narrowest since July 2012. For beef, the wholesale-to-retail spread increased considerably more – jumping almost 15% between March and April – but it is still a little below the average of the last couple of years as a percentage of the retail price.
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