Consumer financial strain affects beef markets

Beef cattle producers should look at consumer demand to determine the future of the market.


Scott Brown, BEEF Magazine 

Sep 08, 2020


Brown is a livestock economist with the University of Missouri.


In the first eight months of 2020, three distinct periods have been observed in cattle and beef markets thanks to COVID-19. Understanding market dynamics within each of these periods is necessary before looking forward to potential industry outcomes for the rest of the year and into 2021.


Although the exact timing and description of the periods noted below are subject to debate, they split 2020 into three distinct sections and help form a more understandable base against which future projections can be compared.


Stages of COVID-19 cattle markets


Using weekly data for production and prices, “pre-COVID effects” denotes the first full week of 2020 through the end of the second week of March. While it is true that COVID-19 appeared worldwide and in the U.S. to a certain extent before mid-March, that is when livestock markets began to noticeably move as a function of the pandemic.


The remainder of March through the end of May is designated as “immediate COVID-19 aftermath” and coincides with the period when the livestock supply chain was at first ramping up output in response to consumer stockpiling of meat products, then responding to significant disruptions in employee availability because of rising COVID-19 infections.


Then, “current COVID-19 condition” is the recent period from the beginning of June through the third week of August.


Consumers spur beef demand ...


Meat prices matter ...


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