Demand for CHOICE Beef Strengthens

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

Could PRIME become the standard grade of beef in the future?

The Choice Select spread has received little attention in this column, but it deserves a few comments as production of Choice grade beef dominates the production side and demand for Choice beef has strengthened over the past decade. From a historical perspective, the Choice Select spread the first decade of this century rarely exceeded $15 per hundredweight with occasions of reaching $20. This was fairly typical until 2017 and since then the Choice Select spread has regularly exceeded $25.

What is unique about this price relationship is that as Choice beef supply has increased so has the demand for Choice beef. One would typically think the spread between Choice and Select grade beef would narrow as Select beef production declined and Choice beef increased. However, consumers have developed a taste for higher quality beef, which has resulted in a clear signal to produce more Choice grade beef. Seasonal peaks and valleys remain in this price relationship.

Could Prime grade beef become the standard 10 to 20 years down the road?