US cattle sink as bird-flu beef tests fuel demand fears – CME

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) cattle futures tumbled on Tuesday as traders worried consumers will buy less meat, a day after the US government said it will verify the safety of ground beef in states that have bird-flu infections in dairy cows, reported Reuters

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Monday it would test ground beef samples in retail stores in the nine states with confirmed H5N1 outbreaks in dairy herds. The department added it was confident the country’s meat supply is safe.

“If anything is going to guarantee a consumer scare, this is it,” said Dennis Smith, commodity broker for Archer Financial Services.

Demand concerns increased ahead of the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, the holiday considered the start of the summer grilling season. Older dairy cows are often processed into ground beef, used to make hamburgers.

CME June live cattle slid 2.175 cents to end at 174.975 cents per pound. 

CME August feeder cattle sank 4.125 cents to close at 255.5 cents. The contract retreated after rising on Monday to its highest level since March 26.

Livestock markets have swung on worries about the H5N1 virus since the US government confirmed cases in dairy cows for the first time in late March. The USDA on Tuesday raised the number of confirmed cases to 36 herds from 34 herds on Monday, though they are still in nine states.

In CME’s lean hog market, June futures ended flat for the third consecutive session at 102.475 cents per pound.