Retail Meat Prices and Meat Demand Trends

This week, USDA Economic Research Service released their summary of retail meat prices for January based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The broad-based decline in retail meat prices, which has been well underway since about mid-year last year, appears to be continuing. In January (as in December), retail prices for all three of the major species declined on a year-over-year basis. For January, retail beef, pork and chicken prices are down from a year ago by 3.8 percent, 4.9 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. USDA’s all fresh beef retail price estimate for January of 575.6 cents per pound is the lowest since July 2014. Still, the perception of very high retail beef prices seems to persist. This is not without justification. As Figure 1 shows, the all fresh beef average retail price, while clearly down from its recent highs, remains well above the 2012-14 average.

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