Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cost of Beef Goes Parabolic

This is hard to believe, but it's real.
Jason Lusk:
  • "That leaves supply-side issues.  Cattle inventories are at their lowest level since the 1950s. Because of technological advancement, we don't need as many cattle today today to produce the same amount of beef as we did in 60 years ago.  Still, fewer cattle numbers means less beef, and less beef supplied means higher prices.  Contraction in cattle supplies can be explained by a number of factors, such as drought in the plains states that limited the amount of grass and hay available and higher feed (mainly corn) prices due to drought, ethanol policy, etc., which pushed pushed more cattle to slaughter several years ago, leading to smaller inventories today.  Feed prices have now come down off their highs but cattle prices are still rising, partially because producers are holding back breeding stock to rebuild inventory.  Still, if high feed prices were THE answer, I would have expected chicken prices to rise in tandem with beef and pork (at least over part of the period), but as the above graph reveals, they didn't."
"In short, the reasons are: (1) supply and demand, which has been affected by weather and increased Asian demand, (2) government intervention, and (3) crony capitalism."
Why Beef Prices Are So High