According to the USDA, while small, beef cattle price declined in early February, but a very sharp decline year-over-year.
“Last week, the average five-area steer price, that we track as our benchmark, was $109 per hundred-weight, which was down from about $127 a year ago,” said USDA Livestock Analyst Shayle Shagam.
That translates into a roughly 14% drop. Shagam added they’ve seen very sharp drops in cattle futures as well, noting it’s hard to know the cause, since there are so many things going on; oil price declines, coronavirus, the recent stock market decline, and so much more. But, as an economist, Shagam said there’s at least one clear factor involved, there’s a lot of meat out there; pork, chicken, beef all competing for the consumer’s dollar.
This past weekend, many customers saw empty meat cases with supermarkets selling out of products, however, “As stores have been selling out, they have been buying large amounts to restock their shelves, which would tend to be price-supportive in the short term.”