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Beef prices hit new record highs

In this weekly Commodities Watch column, John T. Barone, president and commodities analyst for Market Vision Inc., offers a snapshot of the state of commodities for restaurants.

We’ve been screaming “the sky is falling” about beef prices for many months now, but prices for seasonal winter beef items — rounds, chucks, brisket — all hit record highs last week and foreshadow what could be another round of record high middle meat and ground beef prices this spring.

Live cattle futures hit another record high of $140.35/cwt on Friday, 12 percent higher than a year ago and 34 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.

USDA weighted average prices for 90s, or lean beef trimmings, at $2.20 per pound, look to rise to $2.30 by May. Prices for lean beef trimmings were a bit subdued in 2013, hitting highs of $2.20 in March. The record high of $2.31 set in 2012 looks to be challenged this spring. Beef 50s trimmings, at $1.19, set a record high of $1.27 in 2011, before controversy surrounding lean finely textured beef drove prices down in 2012 and 2013.

Contact John T. Barone at [email protected].

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