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Beef supplies tight heading into spring

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.

Beef supplies are tight headed into the spring grilling season.

Larger feedlot placements in recent months should lead to higher beef production by late spring and summer. However, with pork prices also at record highs, the expected bump in beef supplies likely won’t be enough to keep beef prices from continuing to set record highs, probably timed around the “big three” holidays for beef consumption: Memorial Day (May 26), Father’s Day (June 15) and Independence Day (July 4).

Friday’s USDA cattle report showed that new placements onto feedlots in February rose 15 percent year-over-year, but total feedlot inventories on March 1, at 10.79 million per head, are still 0.5 percent below a year ago.

Live cattle futures set a record high of $151.95 per hundredweight on Feb. 28 and have since backed off to $144.00. But that’s still 14.1 percent higher than a year ago and 32 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.

Contact John T. Barone at [email protected].

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