Beef Markets Outlook Report

Turning point in beef markets seems near as demand shifts toward cheaper cuts

Beef prices have continued to spike over the last few weeks, driven by middle meats (steak cuts) in particular. We view several items as being at or very near a top, with downside potential ahead. Most notably, ribeyes, strips, tenderloins, and briskets seem to be unsustainable. Many of these items are at comparable or higher price levels to a year ago. Last year, the industry was producing 25-35% less beef per week than it was in 2019, while this year’s beef production in recent weeks is higher than it was in 2019. We view the recent spike in beef prices as demand driven, and our research indicates that demand is reaching a breaking point for some items as buyers seek lower cost alternatives.

Download CRC's May 2021 Beef Market Outlook

Key Points

  1. Our research is indicating that beef demand is shifting away from items that have spiked to levels similar to last year’s record highs, most notably steak cuts and briskets.
  2. We are projecting significant downside potential for strip steaks, ribeyes, tenderloins, and briskets, over the next eight weeks but still view upside potential for ground beef as strong.
  3. We are hearing that difficulty finding labor persists in the meat industry, limiting slaughter capacity.

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