QUOTE AND NEWS
Forbes  Jul 17  Comment 
One billionaire adding beef cattle to their mining interests is a curiosity. Two is a stampede.
WA Business News  Jul 16  Comment 
Australian beef producers are facing competition in emerging exports markets from low-cost Indian buffalo production, according to the Australian Bureau of Agriculture Resource Economics and Sciences.
Clusterstock  Jul 15  Comment 
The unstated rule among most government regulators is to provide as much information as possible using the most formal, colorless language as possible.  Bloomberg's Matt Levine points us to a new speech from SEC governor Michael S....
FiercePharma  Jul 15  Comment 
Merck wants to get its cattle feed additive Zilmax back to multimillion-dollar sales. But with lingering reservations from beef producers and sellers, that may be easier said than done--and competition is ramping up in the meantime.
Wall Street Journal  Jul 14  Comment 
A sweeping effort by Merck to revive Zilmax, a livestock drug it pulled from the U.S. market last year, is stalling amid resistance from the nation's largest beef processors.
Southeast Farm Press  Jul 14  Comment 
Beef cattle, turkeys and row crops are major enterprises at scenic Glenmary Farm overlooking the Rapidan River near Rapidan, Va. Robert T. “Tom” Nixon II, who owns this farm, is focused on flexibility in growing and marketing cattle and crops....
WA Business News  Jul 14  Comment 
The move by Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest into beef production may ultimately be more about the land they own than ‘feeding China’.
Forbes  Jul 8  Comment 
For DeJoria and ROK CEO Jonathan Kendrick, the partnership is a clever organic marketing play to introduce its music-centric mobile service to hardcore music fans. For Monster chief Noel Lee, it's a chance to settle an old beef with Beats by Dre.
Insurance Journal  Jul 7  Comment 
The HEB supermarket chain is recalling almost 38 tons of fresh beef products over concerns that it might be contaminated with metal fragments from a failed bearing. The recall was announced Thursday by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of...




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This article is about Beef Prices in general. For the specific futures contracts, see the articles on Live Cattle Futures and Feeder Cattle Futures.

In 2007, the retail value of all US produced beef was $74 billion.[1] Beef prices depend in part on the availability and pricing of cattle feed. For instance, heavy droughts often result in the reduction of available hay stocks, so prices drop slightly as more cattle are slaughtered and sent to market. However, this reduces breeding stock, subsequently reducing supply and raising prices in the long term.[2] Reliance on corn cattle feed (especially distiller's dry grain--see DDG under Ethanol Production) also makes beef prices susceptible to significant changes in corn prices.[3]

The chart at left shows spot prices for Live Cattle on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Who benefits from higher beef prices?

  • Tyson Foods (TSN), and Brazilian JBS S.A. (SAO:JBSS3), owner of Swift Foods, examples of major public beef protein processors (they hold 24% and 18.5% of US market share, respectively), benefit when beef prices rise.[4][5]
  • Smaller, private beef producers and processors, such as Cargill Meat Solutions, with 21% of US market share, and National Beef, with 10.5% of US market share, also benefit when beef prices rise.[6]
  • AspenBio Pharma (OTC:APNB), Alpharma (ALO) and other manufacturers of livestock pharmaceuticals benefit from higher demand for cattle, which results in increased demand for the high-yield drugs that AspenBio manufactures.

Who benefits from lower beef prices?

Historical Beef Statistics

Trends and Forces

Increase in Feedstuff Prices Increases the Price of Beef

Beef Prices are heavily dependent on favorable pricing of feedstuffs, such as corn prices and soybeans, as food makes up the majority of the cost of raising livestock. Corn prices have risen sharply since the beginning of 2007 - more than 60% in 2007 and early 2008 - as ethanol producers have increased their demand for the commodity (rising oil prices, in turn, have increased demand for ethanol).[10] Corn is also the main input for many other food products such as high fructose corn syrup that are in increasing worldwide demand - but nonetheless the USDA expects U.S. farmers to plant 8% less corn in 2008, lowering supply and increasing prices.[11] Any long-term, significant increase in feedstuffs prices has the potential to seriously increase beef prices.

Rising Global Demand Pushes Up Beef Prices

In 2007, beef consumption rose at an annual rate of 5% in developing countries.[12] From 1990 to 2007, per capita consumption of meat doubled in China - 1.3 billion people ate twice as much meat as they did before.[13] As global demand increases, prices are pushed up and meat becomes more expensive.

Cattle Supply is Dependent on Weather Conditions

Farmers depend on forage - grass and wheat - to feed cows during the summer and fall. During droughts, not enough forage grows to feed the cattle and farmers are forced to dip into their winter hay reserves to feed their herds. In order to make sure they have enough hay for the winter, farmers send surplus cattle to market, increasing supply in the short term, but reducing breeding stock and decreasing supply in the long term.

Import Bans Decrease Supply and Increase Prices

When health scares, such as cases of mad cow disease, cause the United States to ban cattle imports from other countries, US supply shrinks and beef prices increase. For example, the 2003 ban of Canadian cattle imports decreased US supply by 8% and contributed to a 30% rise in cattle prices.[14]

Beef Industry Market Share

Tyson Foods (TSN) is the largest US producer of beef with 25% of the US market.

Cargill Meat Solutions is the second largest US beef producer with 21% of the US market.

Swift Foods, which is owned by Brazilian meat producer JBS S.A. (SAO:JBSS3), is the third largest US beef producer with 18.5% of the US market.

National Beef is the fourth largest US beef producer with 10.5% of the US market.

Note: Market share data from NWA Online

References

  1. U.S. Beef and Cattle Industry: Background Statistics and Information
  2. Drought loss expected to reach $30M for six-county region; feds could issue disaster declaration
  3. [1] Corn Prices Near Record High, But What About Food Costs?
  4. [2] Tyson Foods: Overview
  5. [3] Beef Losses Prompt Cutbacks
  6. [4] Beef Losses Prompt Cutbacks
  7. http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/mcbeef.html
  8. Chicago Business, "Kraft, Sara Lee face rising beef and pork prices"
  9. [5] U.S. Beef and Cattle Industry: Background Statistics and Information
  10. [6] National Corn Growers Association Futures Quotes
  11. [7]|"USDA Bets on Soy, but Farmers Like Corn"
  12. [8] More wealth, more meat. How China's rise spells trouble
  13. [9] Meat demand in Asia fuels higher food prices
  14. [10]The price of beef becomes hard to swallow
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