Dykstra: Trend of increasing quality continues
Paul Dykstra, beef cattle specialist for Certified Angus Beef (CAB), notes that 2016 continued a decade-long trend of increase quality in carcass grades for beef.
“We saw the highest level over that period of time in 2016 of Choice and Prime-graded carcasses,” Dykstra says. “We saw a one percentage point increase in the Choice grade, but again, that was the highest point that we’ve seen in modern history.”
The trend, he emphasizes, is towards very, very high-quality beef.
In addition with the increase in Choice beef, 5.5 percent of steer and heifer harvests graded Prime beef, and 28.9 percent of Angus-influenced cattle qualified for the CAB mark.
“The premiums are very, very good for all of the higher-quality product today, even though we have more supply than we’re used to,” Dykstra continues, “and the market is still very, very good.”
Looking deeper, Dykstra adds that the value of Choice beef over Select beef is up an additional $3.47 per hundredweight in 2016.
“The box beef premium increased about five dollars a hundredweight in 2016 over the prior year,” he says. “Again, we’re looking at a year that was the all-time record in terms of tonnage, with over one billion pounds.”
He adds, “It’s a strong statement for the demand that exists for higher-quality product, even when supplies are at record levels.”
Higher prices haven’t scared customers away from the protein product, and in fact, demand has increased for high quality beef.
“We’ve seen beef at a very high price point, undoubtedly as we compare to pork and poultry,” Dykstra says. “When folks go out and spend their grocery money or go out to eat a nice meal, they’re willing to spend more as long as they are faced with the promise of quality and a great eating experience.”
In 2017 thus far, beef has continued its positive trend, with 80 percent of steers and heifers grading Choice and Prime in the last several weeks.
Dykstra presented during CAB’s weekly video news program, “Angus VNR.” Learn more at angus.org.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.