Pre- vs. Post-COVID beef prices

While COVID-19 has changed the business environment, consumers still demand beef.


Nevil Speer, BEEF Magazine

Nov 12, 2020


There still’s work ahead. However, the business environment has found some normalcy following the initial blow from COVID. That is, the world is learning to live with COVID and is working hard to reestablish commerce continuity. 


To that point, the beef industry has largely returned to business as usual (as much as possible) despite the overwhelming deficit of food service sales. The difference maker being remarkably solid demand in the retail sector. That is, retail strength has buffered food service weakness. 


Accordingly, it’s useful to review some longer-term trends around retail beef prices. This week’s illustration highlights retail ground beef and overall beef price trends (through September). A couple of items are of importance:


·         September’s beef retail prices averaged $6.37 per pound – off sharply from the peak of $7.56 in May – and almost even with the May/June 2015 previous high of $6.41 per pound. 


·         Lean/extra-lean ground beef sold for an average of $5.73 per pound in September – down from the June COVID peak of $6.31 per pound.


·         Overall, ground beef has stabilized around $4.05-$4.10 per pound.      


In the middle of this discussion, it’s important to emphasize the value of differentiation in the marketplace. That is, lean/extra-lean ground beef began diverging from regular ground beef in 2014 and 2015. 


For example...


more, including chart