Average USDA five-area beef prices saw a steady climb throughout January, helping boost feedyard margins into profits exceeding $200 per head.
The largest increase during January was found the week of Jan. 16 to Jan. 23. The five-area average price jumped that week by $3.04 per cwt. The last week of January, however, saw a slight dip in the actual cash prices paid to feedyards.
Our group of cattle industry experts that make up the Monday Market Sentiment panel came in with an average guess that ranked below the USDA number during the weeks of Jan. 16 and Jan. 23, however, they guessed above the average during the last week of the month. The biggest gap found in their average guesses was the week of Jan. 23, when their average guess was under the USDA number by $1.52 per cwt.
One of the markets driving factors during January was lower boxed beef prices. As of Feb. 23, the prices for boxed beef saw a 10-day average of $189.83 and a 27-day average of $191.13. The high price over the past 27 days was $194.53, in comparison to the year’s high price of $203.65.
Likewise, prices of primal rib meats also dropped in January with a 27-day average of $288.31 compared to $311.99 on Jan. 23. The highest price over the 27-day period was $297.28, compared to last year’s average high price of $305.96.
Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Drovers.