Meat processing plant closures in the U.S. weakened livestock demand and led to concerns over a possible shortage of beef and pork. Demand surged when stay-at-home orders began as people stocked up on the products, and then fell because consumers tend to eat less meat at home than in restaurants. That also created price volatility for cattle and hog futures.
So far this year to Friday, futures prices for feeder cattle FCQ20, -1.86%, at 136.95 cents a pound, lost about 12% after posting four consecutive months of declines. They trade around 9% higher month to date.
The coronavirus pandemic led many meat-processing plants to temporarily close as employees fell ill. Live animal prices “plummeted due to a larger supply of animals versus processors to buy them,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone.