Livestock Marketing Information Center

  Retail scanner prices for meat

United States Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service - The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America...

  in cooperation with

Livestock Marketing Information Center

At USDA's Economic Research Service, the Market and Trade Economics Division joined forces/budgets with the Food Economics Division to price and, hopefully, purchase an expanded set of monthly retail meat price data. The expanded price series would include a larger number of lamb, turkey, and chicken cuts along with package bacon and possibly some deli cuts. If a contract for the monthly data is procured, the new data series will begin in January 2008 and overlap the existing price data series, which ended in April 2008. (Statement provided by USDA-ERS on July 21, 2009.)  If you have questions please contact the LMIC.

This database contains monthly average retail price data for selected cuts of red meat and poultry, based on electronic supermarket scanner data.  USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) developed this database and the methodology.  Updates and oversight are now coordinated by the LMIC with ERS funding (re-established in 2007).  While not based on a random sample, the raw data underlying the database are from supermarkets across the United States that account for approximately 20 percent of U.S. supermarket sales.

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Data files
Summary tables provide quick access to average retail prices (weighted by quantity purchased) for beef, pork, poultry, lamb, and veal.


A searchable database allows users to create custom tables, which can be saved as *.csv or *.html files. Users can select time periods (beginning in January 2001), individual meat categories, and one of three report formats. The resulting tables report monthly weighted-average prices, an index of volume sold (with the monthly average for 2001=100), and the percent of volume sold with feature discounts.

Retail scanner price data is also available for download in a convenient form of excel files containing the data for all the months beginning from January of 2001 categorized as Beef, Pork, Poultry, and Lamb & Veal.

An overview and documentation of the database also are available.

Only random-weight items that are species-specific and sold in the fresh meat department of traditional supermarkets are included in the database. Multi-species items, canned meats, products containing meat (such as frozen dinners), and deli products are not included. Although most bacon and sausage are sold in fixed-weight packages, the database does contain information on random-weight bacon and sausage.

Release date
Updates are planned for the 20th of the month, or the closest business day. The data have a 2-month reporting lag; that is, prices for May are reported in July.

Data revisions
January 2004.
Some supermarkets encountered labor stoppages in November, which impacted sales volume. In addition, several lamb cuts have been added to the searchable database. They are lamb chops, lamb roasts, leg of lamb, lamb leg, lamb shoulder, and lamb loin.

Minor changes are made in the data when needed in response to continuing quality checks and audits. These changes are usually a result of additional data or information becoming available. Major revisions to the database are noted on the data revisions page.

Legislation passed in 1999 mandates collection of retail meat prices, and reflects in part concerns about the effects of industry concentration on prices and reduced bargaining power of independent livestock producers. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects retail prices on some of the same cuts of meat, this database was originally developed by ERS and includes price data on more cuts, information on volumes sold, and the discount effects of featuring.

ERS continues to use BLS prices to calculate meat price spreads from farm to wholesale and from farm to retail. However, users can compute alternative price spreads using the meat retail scanner price data.

Item groupings by scanner data category gives examples of individual meat cuts that are in the scanner data categories (in *.xls format).

Scanner and BLS categories match BLS meat categories to the corresponding category in the retail scanner data (in *.xls format).

Definitions for the volume index, random-weight items, and other terms related to scanner data and meat prices.

Questions and answers
Answers to questions such as: Which stores are included in the reporting of supermarket scanner data? How are data weighted to arrive at a national average price?

USDA-ERS related briefing rooms
Food marketing and price spreads

Related resources
BLS consumer price indexes

Advisory committee:  William Hahn, ERS; Erica Rosa, LMIC; James Mintert, Kansas State University; Russell Tronstad, University of Arizona; David Anderson, Texas A&M University; Steve Meyer, Representing National Pork Board. 



For more information, Contact: Erica Rosa    Ph: (720) 544-2941
Page updated: August 07, 2009