Benzinga  Oct 24  Comment 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) monthly cold storage report was released Friday after the close of livestock trading. The USDA cold Storage report showed that stocks of frozen beef in the nations freezers on September 30th totaled...
USDA NASS  Oct 20  Comment 
Record Beef and Pork Production for September...
Benzinga  Oct 20  Comment 
The USDA reported today that beef weekly export sales for the period ending October 13th totaled 16,000 tonnes. Sales were up 27 percent from the previous week and up 40 percent versus the four week average.  Pork export sales totaled 19,400...
WA Business News  Oct 20  Comment 
ANALYSIS: Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, who are leading the herd into cattle farming, face a tough market for meat exports.
Forbes  Oct 19  Comment 
The American Diet Tyson Foods, the world’s largest processor of beef, chicken and pork, helps fill two out of five dinner plates in America every day. With that level of market domination, you wouldn’t expect them to pivot to an entirely...
Forbes  Oct 17  Comment 
Forget beef, now it's all about buffalo. Worms, that is.
Benzinga  Oct 14  Comment 
The USDA reported today that beef weekly export sales for the period ending October 6th totaled 12,600 tonnes. Sales were down 28 percent from the previous week and down 6 percent versus the four week average.  Pork export sales totaled 18,000...
Forbes  Oct 13  Comment 
Through the isolation of naturally occurring properties found in both animal meat and plants, the Impossible Foods team has successfully created the Impossible Burger, a scalable and affordable plant-based substitute that looks, tastes, bleeds and...
TechCrunch  Oct 12  Comment 
 The startup, which has a whopping $182 million in venture capital so far for its plant-based burger that aims to look, taste and bleed like real beef announced it is now available in California to a room full of press at Tank18 in downtown San...
MarketWatch  Oct 10  Comment 
Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meat company by sales, on Monday said it took a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, a purveyor of plant-based burger patties that seek to replicate the taste and sizzle of ground beef.


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


  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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