Meat & Livestock News

Beef Packer and Feedlot Margins Face Challenges in 2024


  • Beef packer margins showed slight improvement but remained negative in early 2024, contrasting sharply with the previous year’s profits.
  • Feedlot margins also experienced a downturn, reflecting the impact of rising feed costs despite a slight recovery from early February’s losses.
  • Annual forecasts suggest a decrease in profitability for both packers and feedlots compared to 2023.

The financial landscape for beef packers in 2024 has shown signs of improvement, though margins remain in negative territory, highlighting ongoing challenges in the industry. The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker reported that for the week ending March 2, beef packer margins were at a loss of $105.69 per head.

This figure marks a slight recovery from the previous week’s loss of $168.23 per head and is in line with losses recorded in early February. This situation represents a significant shift from the same period last year when packers enjoyed a modest profit of $8.17 per head.

Feedlot operations have not been spared from financial pressures, with margins dipping into a $1.75 per head loss for the same week, a decline from the $14.19 profit observed just a week earlier. This downturn, however, is an improvement from the $54.31 loss seen in early February and stands in stark contrast to the $170.02 per head profit recorded a year ago.

Looking ahead, annual projections for 2024 suggest a challenging year for both sectors. Feedlot margins are anticipated to reach a profit of $132.75, a significant reduction from the $264.47 profit in 2023. Packer margins are expected to face a $36 loss this year, a downturn from the marginal $0.22 profit seen in 2023. These forecasts underscore the financial hurdles facing the beef industry, driven by factors such as rising feed costs and market dynamics, as stakeholders navigate a year of anticipated lower profitability.