Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Walmart Changes Beef Market

Wal-Mart is now carrying Choice Beef in their meat case.

This is so exciting . . . wait a minute . . . no it’s not . . . wait a minute . . . I can’t decide.
Wal-Mart is the number one buyer of beef and has been “polling” customers. (which really means secretly watching what you purchase) They have now decided that they will start selling Choice Beef in their meat case. That means all 3,800 stores they own will be offering Choice Beef to their customers and our consumers.  Previously they have been the number one marketer of select beef. 

TIME OUT FOR EDUCATION (copied from USDA website)
The USDA defines 9 quality levels for beef. They are stamped on the carcass but by the time you buy your cuts at the butcher counter, you’ll only know by examining the sticker pasted onto the plastic packaging.
From the USDA:
  • Prime grade Description: Image of Prime Labelis produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling).
  • Choice grade Description: Image of Choice Labelis high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if “braised” — roasted, or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.
  • Select grade Description: Image of Select Labelis very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.
  • Standard and Commercial grades – are frequently sold as ungraded or as “store brand” meat.
  • Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

After Wal-Mart started purchasing Choice Beef about three week ago the Choice – Select spread is now at a historical high at $17.38 CWT (per hundred weight) or .1738 per pound.  This means a producer who is selling on the grid (after slaughtered) and not on the hoof can realize that premium if their cattle grade choice.

In Conclusion:
-       More consumers will have access to better quality beef. (hopefully increasing demand)
-       More Choice Beef will be sold
-       Cattle farmers producing calves with genetics to grade choice and can prove it, will be paid a premium
-       Cattle Feeders that can feed cattle into the Choice Quality Grade will get a premium
-       If you are currently feeding or breeding potentially Select cattle, well that could be really bad financially L.

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