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This Week in Retail: December Meat and Poultry Outlook 

Thanksgiving is now behind us, but that doesn’t mean the retail uproar has ceased. As we roll into December, there is still much grocery shopping and planning to be done—giving retailers only a brief moment to restock and switch gears for the holidays.

In December, there are several dynamics that arise and we tend to see some strong seasonal influences playing out in both the wholesale and retail markets.

After a brief runup in prices during the mid to late November period, wholesale beef prices tend to sort of patter out as we close on the year. Once orders for the holidays are filled (standing rib roast, anyone?) the market softens and finishes out flat. Retail, on the other hand, sees some of the highest prices of the year in late December. No surprise there, as top-quality beef cuts are the big-ticket items at the holiday. Looking at Urner Barry’s Weekly Beef Retail Index, the 3-year average price for the third week in December is $6.79 per pound, which compares to the yearly average of $6.03 per pound. After that, retail beef prices historically don’t get another boost until...

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