CAB: Restaurants Pivot to Survive, Retailers Can’t Keep Up

Beef market conditions in the past two weeks have responded with tremendous force in the wake of COVID-19 as U.S. consumer buying at retail escalated to a frenzy. Fear of food shortages is a very real phenomenon for the public, as shoppers come face to face with empty meat cases. When food supplies appear scarce then the momentary reality is that they are scarce. This behavior has driven retail beef clearance to a heightened degree.

In the meantime U.S. Federally Inspected (F.I.) beef production continues at record pace with an incomprehensible 6% year-to-date increase over 2019. Just to be clear, this is the largest volume in history.

Back to the market, boxed beef values have skyrocketed beginning mid-March with USDA (0-21 day delivery) and Urner Barry (0-10 day delivery) showing the daily spot market Choice cutout value advancing 25% or 15%, respectively. By comparison, the USDA Choice cutout spiked 12% following the Holcomb plant fire last August.

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