Spread between pork, beef prices seen narrowing

(Canada Beef Inc. photo)

CNS Canada — Pork prices in Canada are narrowing the gap with beef prices — but the spread between the two meats remains well above the historical average.

“Beef values (cutout) have actually come down a little bit, whereas pork and poultry (cutout) values have actually gone up,” said Brad Marceniuk, a provincial livestock economist in Saskatoon.

During the week of May 4-8, he said, the cutout price of pork was just over $77 per hundredweight (cwt), 3.3 times less than the cutout price of beef, which checked in at $256/cwt.

Though the disparity between the two proteins is vast, Marceniuk noted it’s actually getting smaller.

“Pork has caught up; recently it’s been worth less than $70, so if you had $256 divided by $70, that’s 3.6 times (less),” he explained. The long-term average sees beef prices 2.2 times higher than pork.

The skyrocketing cost of beef has been largely behind the disparity, but this shows signs of changing.

“Finally people have been saying, ‘Why should I buy a bunch of beef when I can buy pork for that much lower?'” said Marceniuk.

The reopening of U.S. West Coast ports after the Christmas labour strife also helped pork demand. Pork exports were higher in March than February and now barbecue season is here.

“So there’s a combination of factors that have helped to increase pork prices,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, slaughter-weight hog prices have gained strength in recent weeks, and a recent rise in cash prices has narrowed the spread between cash and futures markets.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Dave has a deep background in the radio industry and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two beautiful children. His hobbies include reading, podcasting and following the Atlanta Braves.

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