In this file:
· Beef Industry Trending Toward Higher Grades
· CAB Insider: Quality Up, Up, Up, Regardless of Weight
Beef Industry Trending Toward Higher Grades
By Todd Carroll, KBTX (TX)
Feb 07, 2019
Demand for beef has continued to be strong both domestically and as an export item. That demand didn’t occur by accident. The beef industry has worked diligently for the last few years to improve its quality and consistency. David Anderson is a Professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Economist.
“For a couple of decades now the industry has pushed a higher quality more consistent product. That’s what consumers want. We measure quality not in terms of good or bad or anything like that. Everything meets the same food safety guidelines, right? We measure quality, the USDA’s quality grades are Prime, Choice, and Select.”
Anderson says beef grades are determined by one simple thing.
“It’s all based on marbling basically, the intermuscular fat, the fat that carries a lot of juiciness and flavor and tenderness and all that good stuff. And so, we go to a fancy steak place, we’ve got an idea what Prime is. We’ve got a decent idea what Choice is, so choice is the middle one. Select is the lower one. The only difference really is how much intermuscular fat is in it.”
If you go back a few years, about two percent of what the beef industry produced graded Prime. Anderson says that the industry is trending towards producing more high quality grade beef.
“At the end of 2018 we actually had a couple of weeks where we produced about eleven percent of the beef produced in the U.S. that was graded was Prime, but...
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CAB Insider: Quality Up, Up, Up, Regardless of Weight
Paul Dykstra, Certified Angus Beef
via Drovers - February 6, 2019
There’s no question that carcass weights were significantly lower in January than they would have been given a more typical weather pattern for the month. USDA steer and heifer weights were just released for the week of December 24th, indicating heifer carcasses at 9 lb. under and steer carcasses 6 lb. under a year ago. We’re left guessing as to the exact deviation through the month of January, but Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand carcasses for the month were reported 11 lb. lighter than last January, but the last full week of the month showed an improvement to just 5 lb. under a year ago. Throughout 2018, the weekly CAB carcass weight was typically 4 lb. heavier than the USDA weighted average for fed cattle, but we must note that a few rare weeks, including the first one of the year, varied by as much as 19 lb. in that 2018 comparison. Intuition suggests poorer quality grades and fewer CAB certified carcasses result from lighter carcass weights and the stress of inclement conditions.
The fact is we’ve observed that extreme winter weather is more closely aligned with periods of above-average quality grades, looking at week-to-week results within a winter season. A scientific review may prove or discredit extreme winter weather causation, adjusted for several environmental and biological factors. Nonetheless, we aren’t surprised about the lack of an impact from winter weather, but lighter carcasses along with exceptional quality grades do raise an eyebrow: the industry has seen carcass weights and quality grades climb in tandem over a number of years now. As well, a meta-analysis of 552 trials (Owens and Gardner, 2000) confirmed that heavier carcasses achieve higher marbling scores, among a cadre of other factors associated with the trait. Still, January CAB acceptance rates are outpacing anyone’s expectations with an average of 36% of eligible carcasses qualified through the 26th of the month. That’s 3 full percentage points above last year and easily a January record, all the weather would have most of us saying it can’t be done. The 73% Choice percentage of the past four weeks is essentially par with the previous January high of 2017, but the Prime grade, at a record 9.22% for the period, is unmatched for the month in either 2017 or 2018 at 6.2% and 7.4%, respectively. February normally denotes the most consistent annual peak for carcass quality grades, rarely matched in recent years by 4th quarter peaks. Surely we can’t go higher from here through February, can we?
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