This Week in Retail: Turning Up the Heat on the Retail Protein Situation

by | Apr 20, 2016 | Blog

Story provided compliments of Urner Barry

Last week, cold weather plagued much of the country and aggravated grocers as features for grilling cuts were lost on many who lacked the luxury of grilling outdoors. This week however, the nation finally appears to be thawing out. With temperatures exceeding 70° in parts of the Northeast and the Midwest, spring fever has hit and shoppers are anxious to break out the patio furniture and barbeques. Luckily, features for steaks, burgers, ribs, chops and chicken are still plentiful—just in time for the sunshine.

April 2016 is somewhat lacking in major retail buying occasions so the month is largely dependent upon favorable weather for moving protein. The advent of spring marks an end to the heavy, comfort foods of winter, while grilling fare and premium cuts take center stage.

Wholesale beef prices are currently down about 16% from a year ago. The market is just now coming back from recent lows as spring business picks up and Memorial Day comes into focus. On the retail side, the outlook is positive for beef demand if prices can remain below year ago when we saw many consumers trading down to less expensive protein options. This week, 80% lean ground beef is on feature for $3.19 per lb., down 16% from this time last year. It is also cheaper than the national average feature price for ground turkey this week, at $3.27 per lb., and boneless skinless chicken breasts at $3.94 per lb.

The retail steak feature complex averages $7.39 per lb. compared to $8.13 per lb. a year ago. A bone-in rib steak is down 7% YOY, while a bone-in strip is down 13% on average. Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks are featured at slight premiums to year ago. Top round London Broil is on sale for $5.45 per lb. on average, down 5% from this week last year.

Wholesale pork prices are up nearly 16% from a year ago. Despite this, supplies are ample and retail features are exceptionally competitive. Ribs are averaging $3.04 per lb. which is just slightly over year ago levels. Chops are highlighted at $2.97 per lb., down 14% from this time last year. Tenderloins, popular for grilling, are also lower than a year ago at $3.84 per lb.

As the grills heat up, so does the competition. The Weekly Retail Chicken Index is $2.81 per lb. this week, aided by low dark meat values on feature. The Retail Beef Index is $5.84 per lb., propped up by premium cuts and tenderloin prices. Finally, the Retail Pork Index this week is $3.61 per lb.

To view this week’s feature activity along with historical retail charts, subscribers can access the complete breakdown for the various meat and poultry cuts by clicking on the Retail Features option under the ‘More’ tab on the Comtell homepage, or click here for Urner Barry’s Weekly Summary.

Jamie Chadwick
Urner Barry

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