050439 Choice Beef Prices Set 54-Week High

April 29, 2005

Kansas City - The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the choice carcass composite value at $163.44 per hundredweight, up $0.34 from Thursday and the highest since April 15, 2004.

The mid-April quote at $164.03 was also the 2004 peak and the highest since November 2003. The all-time high was hit Oct. 16, 2003, at $201.18 for lightweight choice and $201.07 for heavy choice.

Market analysts and industry sources held mixed opinions on whether choice prices would move above the 2004 high to hit an 18-month high. Some said with prices already being so close to the 2004 high, it wouldn't take much to push prices up enough to top that figure.

However, others said larger cattle slaughter, which climbed this week to the largest level since the week-ended Dec. 11 and is expected to continue to be above the year-to-date weekly average throughout May, could provide enough beef to keep prices from exceeding the 2004 high.

University of Missouri agricultural economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain in their weekly cattle summary said that based on preliminary data, demand for beef at the consumer level during the first quarter of this year "was pushed substantially below a year ago."

They also said their demand index showed a 6.9% loss for these three months compared with the same period in 2004. Their data show retail beef prices for the January-March period were up 3.8% from 2004, but estimated per capita consumption of beef for this period was down 7.5% from a year earlier.

They also said the "good news for cattle feeders is that demand for fed cattle for January-March was up 1.5% ... and fed cattle prices for the same period were up 9.9%."


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