Although beef production is expected to increase to 27.5 billion pounds during 2018, CattleFax says current consumer demand is expected to remain good and potentially increase. At the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, CattleFax celebrated its 50th anniversary with the CattleFax Outlook Session. Analyst Kevin Good told the audience U.S. beef cow inventory increased 2.8 million head in four years, and an additional 200,000-400,000 head are expected to be added to the herd over the next few years. Good said there are growing supplies of protein coming to market during the year ahead, including large supplies of competing proteins, which will weigh on all beef prices.
However, “demand is robust on all fronts,” according to Good, who says retail demand is increasing and beef is being featured more in the consumer markets. Input costs are expected to remain manageable, with grain prices expected to remain steady. CattleFax analysts predict fed cattle prices lower than prior year levels, averaging $115 per hundredweight.
CattleFax projected 750-pound steers will average $1 lower than 2017 levels at $145/cwt., with a range from the upper $120s to $160/cwt. Meanwhile, U.S. average 550-pound steer calves will see a trading range from $170/cwt. at the spring high to an average price in the upper $130s, during the fall marketing season. For the full year, calf prices are expected to average $158/cwt.
Sources: NAFB News Service and CattleFax Press Release