ERS Charts of Note

Subscribe to get highlights from our current and past research, Monday through Friday, or see our privacy policy.
See also: Editor’s Pick 2017: Best of Charts of Note gallery.


Farmer share of retail value of red meat is declining

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The spreads between farm prices for hogs and cattle and retail prices for pork and beef have widened over the past 18 months, leading to a decline in the farmer share of retail red meat prices. Growing cattle inventories and increased pork production are pushing cattle and hog prices lower. For the fourth quarter of 2015, hog prices (51-52% lean) averaged about $45 per hundredweight, down about 33 percent from a year earlier and nearly 50 percent below the prices received in the second quarter of 2014. Similarly, cattle prices (5-market steer price) averaged $128 per hundredweight in the last quarter of 2015, down nearly 23 percent from the fourth quarter 2014. Retail prices for both beef and pork are down as well, but by a smaller magnitude as they tend to adjust more slowly to changes in the farm price due to the wide variety of other costs—including labor, packaging, storage, and transportation—that also contribute to retail prices. This chart is based on the ERS Meat Price Spreads data product.

Among rising U.S. meat exports, pork has the highest value

Thursday, May 10, 2012

U.S. meat exports began to accelerate in the mid-1980s, and U.S. meat producers have become major players in rapidly expanding world meat markets. On a quantity basis, the greatest gains in U.S. meat exports since the 1980s have been in U.S. poultry exports. However, U.S. pork exports have posted the largest gains, in terms of export value, over the same time period and since 2008 have been the highest valued of U.S. meat exports. Beef was for many years the top U.S. meat export because it is, by far, the highest priced meat. The value of beef exports hit a record $3.2 billion in 2003 before dropping in response to the discovery of BSE, and then recovering. Until 2003, the value of beef exports had generally exceeded the value of pork and broiler meat exports as technical and organizational changes-feeding patterns, animal genetics, and industry structure, for example-exerted downward pressure on the prices of these meats relative to beef. Pork, in turn, is relatively higher priced than broiler meat, and the value of pork exports recently surpassed that of broilers as the quantity of pork exports has grown. This chart is an update of one found in the Animal Production & Marketing Issues topic on the ERS website.

Charts of Note header image for left nav