Information and Guidance on the Domestic Beef Market
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information and guidance to State agencies and school food authorities (SFAs) on the current status of the domestic beef market. As you may be aware, wholesale prices for ground beef have increased more than 30% since last year. Both commercially- and the Department of Agriculture (USDA)-purchased beef prices continue to rise, and supplies of domestic beef are tight nationwide. USDA understands that lean beef is a popular ingredient in school cafeterias across the country, and that SFAs are working hard to plan menus and coordinate food purchases for the coming months. USDA continues to encourage schools to purchase and use beef in their menus as a good source of lean protein.
USDA’s AMS and FNS are working to address challenges related to the current market situation. States and SFAs should be aware that supply interruptions for USDA Foods are primarily limited to USDA beef that is purchased for further processing. Products that USDA delivers directly to States (i.e., USDA fine grind, patties and cooked meat items) have been steadier in supply and have experienced fewer related delays. However, AMS is engaging with the industry to increase the number of domestic beef suppliers by approving new processing plants, in addition to coordinating with FNS to ensure that beef purchases are equitably allocated to all States and processors.