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U.S. Retail Meat: Heat Wave Slows Appetites, Consumption

--Lighter meals to be the focus during 'dog days of summer' --Deli meats, prepared foods expected to snare more advertising space --Beef, pork, chicken to share about equal space in circulars for balance of July By Curt Thacker The heat wave that has been encamped across much of the nation is blamed for slowing appetites and reducing consumption of meats as people tend to eat lighter meals when temperatures are high. Even for those dedicated to grilling during the summer despite the heat, smaller cuts may be selected or steaks might be shared with another. The heat saps appetites, and consuming fewer calories means less buildup in body temperature, analysts said. During the hottest periods of the summer, normally mid-July through early August, many people eat lighter meals such as salads and cold-meat sandwiches. Shoppers also tend to purchase products that don't take a lot of preparation or cooking at home. "When it's in the upper 90s to 100 [degrees Fahrenheit] outside, the food preparer of the home doesn't want to run up the temperature in the kitchen as well," a meat-and-poultry broker said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's choice-beef-carcass price has fallen in seven of the past nine days for a total decline of about 2.5% in value, and the pork-carcass quote has fallen in five of the last six days, tumbling nearly 10% during that period. While some decline in wholesale prices is normal during the time after most of the orders for Independence Day promotions were filled and shipped, part of the price declines may be due to the heat, analysts said. For many shoppers, a precooked meal such as rotisserie chicken or other prepared foods from the deli department at the grocery or take-out from fast-food restaurants may be the preferred choice during midsummer. More of these products are expected to be found in grocers' weekly circulars. Among the meat and poultry cuts likely to be promoted over the next few weeks are ground beef, some steaks for backyard grilling, pork chops and country-style ribs, along with chicken breasts and leg-quarters. The three categories of beef, pork and chicken will likely share about an equal amount of space in the printed advertisements. Few, if any, roasts will be promoted since preparing them would require heating up the kitchen, analysts said. U.S. Retail Meat Spreadsheet Jul Jun Yr BEEF Atl NYC Chg Hst KC LA 5 28 Ago gnd beef unq 273 399 259 332 349 322 279 235 gnd chuck 279 unq 299 299 399 unq 319 268 264 gnd round unq 299 unq unq 349 unq 324 382 299 brisket unq unq unq 274 369 unq 322 309 279 stew meat unq 379 399 unq 399 unq 392 399 392 Steak Sirloin unq 549 599 599 unq 399 537 475 445 t-bone unq unq 699 unq 699 799 732 766 642 strip/shell 899 unq 649 397 632 899 695 572 733 rib-eye 899 999 949 399 999 unq 849 655 849 round unq 349 329 299 unq 299 319 376 361 chuck unq 299 366 unq 346 299 328 396 308 Roast bone-in chk unq unq unq unq 349 unq 349 329 289 bnls chuck unq 349 299 249 295 299 298 419 359 srln/tri-tip unq unq unq unq 699 unq 699 431 423 bnls rump unq unq unq unq 369 unq 369 399 337 15-cut avg 457 430 414 PORK bacon 344 355 349 399 274 399 353 332 380 bnls ctr cut 399 299 269 399 249 449 344 338 349 bnls ham unq 399 349 unq 287 unq 345 343 272 spare-ribs 199 216 224 199 179 unq 203 212 244 cntry-style 249 204 188 unq 149 unq 198 201 195 5-cut avg 289 285 288 CHICKEN whole unq 97 114 127 unq unq 113 122 98 bnls brst 198 249 274 299 199 223 240 212 252 2-cut avg 177 167 175 Note: "unq" is for unquoted as no prices were available for those particular cuts this week.) ("US Retail Meat" provides a weekly look at retail meat price trends through reporting and analysis by Curt Thacker. Pricing information is collected from supermarket circulars in six metropolitan areas and compared with historical data.) Write to Curt Thacker at curt.thacker@dowjones.com

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