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Beef Market Update: Exports up, imports down, and leverage moves towards the feeder

By: RealAgriculture Livestock Team

November 13, 2021

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The temperatures may be headed downwards and winter is on its way, but beef cattle prices aren’t going to be following that trend.

“We’ve had another super week in the U.S. in terms of cash trade,” says Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange, in this week’s Beef Market Update. “Last week the market started to move, or carried on from the previous week, and added on to it this week.”

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In the south, cash prices are $1-$3 higher, in the $130-132 range, and in the north $208 and $133, for live weight and dressed is $3-$5 higher, says Wasko.

“We are closely watching however, the cutout. The choice cutout did not follow suit,” says Wasko, adding that a week ago it closed at $2.90 and last night was $2.85, losing a nickel. Typically the fourth quarter highs are in November she says, but whether or not the high was last week and the markets settle off a bit, they’ll be watching.

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“We know these prices are sky-high at wholesale — $60-$100 over where we were last year for the choice cutout — so it’s understandable that there’s some fatigue, at these levels, but again from a timing perspective, we’ll watch that.”

In Western Canada, cash prices were slow on the get-go, not trading anything last week and $260-$263 dressed traded a bit yesterday, says Wasko. (Story continues below player)

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It’s good to see leverage going towards the feeder, says Wasko. Cattle supply is tightening in the U.S. on the fed cattle side, and the patterns that she sees are what should happen, which is a sigh of relief to get leverage back on the side of cattle producers.

Beef prices in the grocery store have made their way into mainstream news. Wasko says that all protein prices are up, and the fatigue might show up in that pricing soon.

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Beef exports in September were up 22 per cent, so year-to-date, 25 per cent, and value piece was up 38 per cent. Wasko says that the value of Canadian beef exports in 2021 is going to “blow the roof off” of 2020’s numbers. On the flip-side, imports are down 16 per cent in October and year-to-date, down 19 per cent. Production in Canada is up 11 per cent overall and compared to 2019 are still up, comparable to pre-COVID numbers.

As for processing disruptions, if a plant shutdown at Cargill’s High River plant were to happen, Wasko says that throwing another supply disruption into the mix would be awfully bad timing.