Beef, pork, and chicken prices are included in the consumer price index (CPI) released monthly. Last week’s October CPI indicated meat prices going in opposite directions. Two average retail beef prices are reported: Choice beef and the All Fresh beef. The Choice beef price is an average beef price of USDA Choice quality grade. The All Fresh includes fresh beef of any USDA grade. The average retail pork price and broiler price are reported representing various cuts.
The average retail Choice beef price was $7.42 per pound, down 6.1 percent from the record high of $7.90 per pound in October 2021. Choice beef was also $0.18 per pound lower than in September. The all fresh price declined to $7.25 per pound in October from $7.32 in September.
While beef prices have declined, pork and chicken prices have increased. The October retail pork price was the highest on record. The average retail pork price increased to $5.04 in October, up 4.7 cents per pound from September and 23 cents higher than a year ago. The average broiler retail price declined almost 3 cents per pound from September, however chicken is still 34 cents per pound (22.3 percent) higher than a year ago.
When thinking about demand, relative prices for competing meats are often of interest. Beef has become less expensive relative to pork and chicken, even though beef continues to be more expensive in absolute terms. October’s pork price was the most expensive relative to beef since July 2014. Chicken was relatively the most expensive relative to beef since December 2020. Beef and chicken prices are likely to continue to decline as wholesale prices are well below a year ago and large supplies are available. Pork prices will likely continue to increase due to tight supplies of pork.
Author: David Anderson
Professor and Extension Economist Livestock and Food Products Marketing, Dairy, Policy