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CME: While Beef, Pork Prices Down, Poultry Up

by 5m Editor
18 June 2009, at 10:46am

US - According to CME's Daily Livestock Report for 17 June 2009, the latest data on meat prices at the consumer level (May) continued to show a deflationary trend in the price of beef and pork items but less so for poultry prices.

The recession has clearly had a bigger impact on the first two but for different reasons. In the case of beef, consumers likely traded down and opted for less expensive food options. Over the last few months, retailers likely realized that the only way to move beef volume was to give consumers lower prices.

As for pork, prices also continued to drift lower, mostly because of increases in the amount of pork available in the domestic market. The pork industry clearly was hurt by the slowdown in export purchases and the fact that despite much talk about it, producers were not able or willing to cut production as much as expected.

Poultry price inflation has outpaced the other two major species. In part this may reflect the consumer shift towards less expensive meat protein options, especially in the last six months. Also, the industry has been able to cut production significantly in recent months, removing a considerable amount of slack in the system and eliminating the need for constant discounts in order to move product. Clearly ‘poultry’ as a category is quite broad and within that some items have depreciated more than others.

In all, however, poultry prices are currently up some 17 per cent in the past five years while beef and pork prices are up 13 per cent and 8.6 per cent, respectively. Below are some highlights from the May CPI release:

  • The CPI index for beef & veal prices declined 0.5 per cent from the previous month and was up just 1.6 per cent vs. May 2008. The pork price index declined 0.4 per cent from the previous month and is currently running 1.1 per cent higher than a year ago. Poultry prices declined a full 1 per cent from the previous month but are up 3.1 per cent vs. May 2008.

  • Overall food inflation declined 0.2 per cent from the previous month and it is currently up 2.7 per cent from a year ago. In 2008, all food inflation averaged around 5.5 per cent.

  • Food away from home prices rose 0.1 per cent from a year ago and are surprisingly running some 4.2 per cent above year ago levels. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting restaurants are providing customers with more value but that is yet to be reflected in the CPI data.

  • Prices for food consumed at home declined 0.5 per cent from the previous month and were up just 1.5 per cent compared to a year ago.