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CME: Average Feature Price for Ground Beef at Retail Higher Than a Year Ago

16 April 2019

US - According to Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc., beef and pork retail feature activity so far this year has been lower than the previous year, at least based on the data tracked and reported by USDA.

There are a number of ways to track retail features and some private companies provide a very comprehensive view of features based on online, mobile and other ways in which companies communicate with their customers.

We report on USDA data since that is public information. The traditional flyer remains a key communication tool and together with website ads this is the primary data source for the weekly USDA report.

Per USDA "All report information" (is) gathered from publicly available sources including store circulars, newspaper ads, and retailer websites. What’s in the most current USDA reports?

Beef features are down, possibly reflecting the effect of weather on early spring grilling as well as the late Lent/Easter. For the week ending 12 April USDA pegged the retail activity index at 86,280 (this is based on the number of stores and number of beef ads per store), 15 percent lower than the previous year and down 14 percent compared to the five year average.

In the last six reported weeks (since early March) beef features have averaged 8 percent lower than the previous year. Round roasts are a very common beef feature in the winter months and those features this year have been much more limited, possibly due to high beef prices but also ample meat protein supplies and lower prices for competing products (remember hog cheap pork was back in February and early March).

Featuring of beef round cuts for the latest week was reported to be 24 percent lower than the previous year and down 40 percent from the five year average. In the last six reported weeks featuring of beef round was down about 34 percent compared to the five year average. Features of beef chucks have not been much better recently.

For the latest week the featuring activity for beef chuck cuts was down 35 percent vs. last year and a similar decline was observed vs. the five year average. One item that saw better featuring in March and first two weeks of April was ground beef.

While ground beef features for the most current week were down 11 percent from a year ago, since early March those features have averaged 11 percent above year ago levels and they have also been 2.5 percent higher than the five year average. The average feature price for ground beef at retail has been higher than a year ago, reflecting some of the trends we have seen at wholesale.

In the last six weeks, the average 81CL ground beef price at wholesale, as reported by USDA-MPR each week, has been $1.9576/lb., 5.8 percent higher than the previous year. The feature price for 80-89 percent ground beef at retail during this period was reported to be $3.38/lb., 2.7 percent higher than a year ago.

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