There were big numbers in the beef market this past month for pricing, carcass weights, and harvest rates. Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange breaks it down for us in this Beef Market Update.

As Wasko explains, the U.S. cash side of the market is a little higher again this week, landing at $114/cwt in the south and $178-180/cwt delivered in the north.

Wasko thinks the story there is still from the cutout price, as all through January it saw big moves, and that there will be more volatility in wholesale beef prices — did we price ourselves out of the market, she wonders.

Wasko thinks it’s not really a supply issue either — both the U.S. and Canada saw a solid month for beef production in January.

Harvest rates in both countries were big in January. Year-to-date numbers in the U.S. were up nine per cent and in Canada for January, year-to-date is up 15 per cent on all cattle and up 19 per cent on fed cattle slaughter. But the larger kills and those record heavy carcass weights — 47 pounds heavier than a year ago — means that in January, Canada added 20 per cent bigger beef tonnage.

You might be wondering where all that beef went? “Retail demand continues to be solid and we don’t have trade data yet, but again, as we’ve talked all through the end of last year, we continue to see trade as the strong driver for both U.S. and Canadian demand,” says Wasko. Export demand is strong too.

The inventory report out of the U.S. held one surprise for Wasko: a declining beef cow herd that might affect supply later on. Dry conditions might exacerbate that situation, especially if drought migrates into the western corn belt and western plains. Slaughter numbers will be an indicator later on, says Wasko.

Listen into the full conversation below or download the podcast for later:

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