Market Outlook

See the latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report.


Beef/Cattle: The production outlook is mixed from last month, while the annual price forecasts are unchanged. Fourth-quarter 2023 production is forecast lower than last month, dropping the annual forecast to 26.932 billion pounds. This is based on a slower expected pace of fed cattle marketings that is partially offset by higher expected cow slaughter for the rest of the year. The outlook for 2024 production is raised to 25.810 billion pounds on higher anticipated fed cattle marketings, as well as higher cow and bull slaughter from last month. Quarterly cattle price forecasts in 2024 are moderated but the annual averages are unchanged from last month. Based on September trade data, U.S. beef imports are raised in late 2023 and in second-half 2024. However, beef exports are unchanged from last month.

Real Prices for Retail Choice beef

The USDA, Economic Research Service’s meat price spread data includes estimates of the retail values of Choice beef. The chart below shows the monthly retail Choice beef value for this year deflated by the Consumer Price Index, CPI. Deflating data corrects for the effect of inflation on prices, giving us what economists call “real prices.” Actual Choice beef values peaked in July 2023 and have decreased each month from August through October. The deflated retail Choice beef value has declined over the same period.

The chart also shows the highest and lowest real values during a decade, starting in 1970, as well as the highs and lows for the years 2021 to 2022.The highest real values for beef occurred in the 1970s; beef values generally increased less rapidly than inflation throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2000, beef values have usually increased more rapidly than overall inflation. Although high, the real, retail beef values for the first 9 months of this year are below the highs in 2021 and 2022.

Download chart data in Excel format.