Wholesale choice beef prices falling at a faster rate than retail
Retail and wholesale food prices often move closely together. When wholesale prices rise, retail prices typically follow. The price of choice beef in wholesale and retail markets moved upward in 2014 and most of 2015. Wholesale prices increased from roughly $3 per pound to nearly $4 per pound by mid-2015. As wholesale prices rose, retail prices followed, moving from just over $5 per pound in January 2014 to a peak of $6.41 in June 2015. Both prices decreased in 2016, with the wholesale price falling below $3 in late 2016. While retail prices dropped also, they fell at a slower rate. As a result, the ratio of retail to wholesale prices has increased to above 2 to 1, 20 percent higher than the ratio in June 2015 when both prices were highest. This highlights an aspect of the interplay between wholesale and retail prices, in which retail prices respond slower when wholesale prices decline compared to when prices increase. The data in this chart are drawn from the ERS Meat Price Spreads data product updated in December 2016.
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