Growing Meat Mountain Means Cheaper Beef, Pork as Futures Slump

  • Cattle futures drop to five-year low; hogs extend record slide
  • Feedlots seen selling more cattle in USDA report due Friday

With U.S. meat prices this cheap, more summer barbecues are in order.

Cattle and hog futures have been sinking amid record American production of beef and pork that doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. As the meat piles up, retail prices have already been falling and more supplies means that grilling staples including burgers, ribs and pork chops could get even cheaper.

In Chicago, cattle prices reached a five-year low on Wednesday, while hogs fell for a 12th straight session -- a record in data going back three decades. Livestock producers have been able to increase supplies as cheap grains lowered the cost to feed animals. The U.S. hog herd has expanded to the largest on record for this time of year, government data showed June 24. Feedlots, where cattle are fattened up for slaughter, probably sold 8.9 percent more animals last month than a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey of 12 analysts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release official figures July 22.

“That’s an awful lot of production coming our way,” Tim Hackbarth, senior market strategist at Zaner Group, said by telephone. “It all leans bearish.”

Cattle futures for October delivery dropped 1.3 percent to settle at $1.0875 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices touched $1.077, the lowest for rolling most-active futures since June 16, 2011.

Also on the CME, hog futures for October settlement declined 0.7 percent to 63.875 cents a pound, after reaching 63.75 cents, the lowest since January. Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement declined 0.9 percent to $1.38625 a pound.

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