Retail meat prices are falling, according to a report from the USDA.
That represents a change for beef and pork prices, according to an analysis from the Livestock Marketing Information Center.
“The decline for beef and pork reversed a trend of rising prices during the summer months,” the center said in its analysis.
The largest drop came in Choice beef prices, falling 15 cents per pound from August to September. Despite the drop, prices are still 2 percent higher than a year ago. Pork prices are 5 percent lower than a year ago.
“Lower pork price was driven by bacon,” the LMIC said in its analysis. “Nationally, September bacon prices averaged $5.50 per pound. In September 2017, grocery store bacon prices set a record at $6.36 per pound.
“Pork chop price declines were more moderate than for bacon, ranging from 10-20 cents per pound from a year earlier, depending on the product form. Ham prices were moving in the opposite direction, up less than 1 percent for August but up 3 percent from a year earlier.”
Ground beef prices were also trending lower in December, according to the USDA. Lean and extra lean ground beef prices were up 2 cents per pound.
“The declining price trend for fresh beef during September has been the general rule since 2011, with declines of two to five cents every year except in 2014,” the LMIC says. “In 2014, cow slaughter was down close to 20 percent from the prior year, and beef production declined by nearly 5 percent, resulting in tight supplies of beef grinding material.”
Late summer rainfall boosted hay production, according to the USDA. Production in 2018 for alfalfa and alfalfa mixed hay is expected to be 59.5 million tons, up 3 percent from an earlier estimated and up 8 percent from a year ago. Other hay production is estimated at 74.9 million tons this year, down 2 percent from a year ago.
Yield estimates were also increased slightly, resulting in higher forage production by over 4 million tons in other hay and 2 million tons in alfalfa.