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hey guys

I have been up to my eyeballs in meat for the past two years, and have had little to no free time to post here. I've taken a new position in a different market, and boy have I had my eyes opened. Unfortunately my free time seems to be even less and less, but I do have a few planned posts, including one documenting my yearly bacon and pancetta cure.

I'm working 7 days a week, 60+ hours a week at the moment, with no end in sight. The good news is that our market is continually increasing it's sales and keeping its gross profit percentage consistent. The bad news is that Super WalMart has been building here and it planing on moving in on our customers.

Rising prices and budget beaters

As expected, price of cattle at auction is on the rise. Luckily it held steady through the holidays, trading only slightly higher than the previous average. However, when we usually see a drop after the two holidays, we're already seeing a pretty massive increase in asking price per head. Like I predicted, feeders are valuing their cattle quite dearly as the price of corn grew even more demand for hay, which saw a poor year in harvesting. Add to that the record snowstorms and the recent ice storms throughout the midwest (including several hundred thousand head stranded in the snow in Colo.) and I predict to see the prices continue to rise.

If you haven't filled your freezer before now, I can offer only a few pieces of advice. Lamb is still on a steady low. Bumper years in Colo., Iowa and NZ combined led to very cheap lamb prices this fall and prices haven't recovered. Poultry hasn't really gone up as significantly as expected (although Turkey prices over T-giving were higher over average despite the 6 month lead on slaughtering experianced with frozen birds) and the larger birds (Capons, Ducks, Geese, baking hens) are still on level with last year. Offal is still garnering what it always has, despite the blow that Swift recieved in production from its recent imigration raid. Also, this cold weather makes it a perfect time for braising therfore making all the oxtails, short ribs, beef cheeks and tongue, and shanks all the better of a deal. I will hopefully be focusing on offal over the next few weeks with some planned posts, so please keep your eyes peeled.

watch out poultry lovers

With corn on a ten year high, production of poultry (and to an extent, cattle as well) is expected to see an unprecedented drop. For all you omnivores and carnivores out there, that means a much higher price tag on chicken at your grocers. Pilgrim's Pride, the US' second largest producer (and currently attempting a takeover of Gold Kist, Inc) has already announced a 5% cutback in production, rumors are abound of Tyson cutting up to 50% of it's production over the winter, and wholesalers are recommending overstocking frozen chicken holdings to take advantage of the steady pricing of chicken at the moment.

Prices may slightly about average at this point, but stocks are down anywhere from 11 to 18% and demand is tracking at about 2% higher than in September. Expect that number to rise, indicating a very hefty rise in consumer pricing. This butcher predicts anywhere from 25 to 50% increase in costs on the wholesale level. I suggest to you what I've suggested to my friends and family this week: fill your deep freeze when you come upon a deal or a loss leader. If you don't have a deep freeze, now might be the time to buy one. If you can reserve a side or quarter of beef from a local producer or processor, I would give a long thought to doing so. Cattle prices should fall fairly sharply in the next few weeks as feedlots rush to slim the lots and flood the market. After that, however, the cost will rise significantly as the cost to feed over the winter will be much greater.

back from the dead?

I've meant to keep on on this, I really have. A crazy spring at home, an insanly busy summer at work, and things have just begun to slow down for once. I just got done rearranging my planogram to emphisis winter meals and de-emphisising grilling. I doubled the footprint of my roasts, increased my pork footprint to allow more roasts and family packs, and reduced my grilling steaks footprint four fold. I also increased my stewing/braising scetions and have begun merchendising short ribs, various stew beefs, beef shanks and oxtail and soup bones much more heavily. Once the weather sanpped back last week, I saw an immeadiate jump in sales.

beefretail.com is echoing this rather self-evident seasonal shift as the focus of their fall promotion It's All About Comfort A A quick peak ahead shows that the upcoming Holiday promotions are essetially identical to last years.