Jim Robb, Director and Senior Agricultural Economist at the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Colorado, spoke to the attendees at Mississippi Farm Bureau Winter Commodity Conference today. The topic was the outlook for the cattle and dairy markets. Jim has been an industry expert for many years and is one of the most respected analysts when it comes to the cattle markets.
During his presentation, Robb said he was pleasantly surprised with prices in 2017 after the tough market conditions of late 2016. He pointed toward growing consumer confidence around the world as a reason for the strong demand for beef during 2017. Beef exports in 2017 were the largest year ever in terms of both tonnage and value. Consumer confidence has increased in the U.S. and in Asia. Robb said beef “featuring” by retailers in 2017 was also a reason for the strong demand in the U.S.
While prices were strong in 2017, Robb is forecasting lower year-over-year prices in 2018 and probably in 2019. He noted the larger amount of red meat and poultry supplies available as the primary headwind to the market. Per person disappearance of red meat and poultry is projected to be 223 pounds in 2018. This would be the largest annual total ever. He made the analogy of swimming upstream to portray the challenge that the market faces with larger supplies coming.
These are just the “big” points of his presentation. In total, I found Robb’s presentation to be an excellent evidence-based analysis of the current market conditions and the outlook for the future. He engaged the audience with an entertaining presentation while also telling us what we need to hear about the lower forecasted prices. Thanks to the MS Farm Bureau for bringing great speakers to Mississippi.