Bullish on Beef: Cattle Industry Outlook

Bullish on Beef:
Cattle Industry Outlook

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William Pattison David Williams Sue Aguilar
APR 01, 2024

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Key Takeaways

Record-setting beef and cattle prices are here, and we think they’re going even higher. Beef and cattle price levels will likely remain high through at least 2026, and new record prices may come as early as later this year. Inventories continue to decrease, and once cow-calf producers begin expanding their herds, we believe beef and cattle prices are likely to go even higher.

Cow-calf operations are taking over the beef value-chain. Cow-calf operations are currently receiving their biggest share of the beef retail dollar in nearly a decade,1 and their share may get even larger as meat packers and feedlots compete over a decreasing supply of cattle. The market for beef is built from the bottom up; cow-calf operations are the most profitable that they’ve been in recent memory; and we think that profitability will likely continue through at least 2026. 

Profit today or profit more tomorrow: the power of strategic growth. The most successful cow-calf producers may not be those taking profits today, but the cow-calf producers that are strategically rebuilding their herds. While some are cautious to avoid the negative consequences of an overzealous expansion similar to what was observed in 2014, skilled cow-calf producers who carry their herds and effectively manage drought conditions will position themselves for growth and greater expected long-term profits.