For now, fed steer prices stay level; consumers and exports help demand

Steep price swings were seen for fed steers in the past year, especially in recent months.

Look for more of that in beef in coming months with lower prices ahead. However, annual average fed-steer price for 2017 can end near that received last year. Declines resume in 2018, say University of Missouri Extension economists.

Domestic demand and exports help prices in face of growing supplies, say Scott Brown and Daniel Madison.

The economists updated their outlooks in the 2017 MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) update.

Prices swung from below $1 per pound in mid-October 2016 to near $1.45 per pound in May of this year. Prices softened on two counts. Summer grilling ends, cutting demand. Also, large cattle-on-feed supplies helped push prices down.

A bright spot in beef supplies comes as feed yards send cattle to market at lighter weight. This cuts meat tonnage. With recent higher prices, they pushed cattle forward faster.

Slaughter weights now trail year-ago levels for the 15th month running. Expect weights to regain in 2018. “That’ll add only modest tonnage as more cattle go to market,” Brown says.

Projected U.S. beef cow herd growth continues through 2019. Cows will reach 31.8 million head, up from 31.1 million now. By end of the outlook in 2022, the herd will drop back to 31.1 million cows.

Source: Drovers