Our Anniversary Sale and Three Important Trends for 2023

(Our trend section is lengthy, but we promise you’ll learn something new and interesting!)

Anniversary Sale:

As is the tradition this the time of year, we celebrate success and look to the future. In that theme we are pleased to offer our Anniversary Sale! Through our pricing, and especially our pricing marked with “WOW!”, we aim to bring Quality, Service and Value to our customers.

As an example, our Whole Bone-in Pork Loin at $3.99/lb. brings you nearly 23 lbs. of our Reserve Pork Loin, Rib and Jumbo Chops for about $91.  That’s over $60 of savings at retail and you’ll get enough chops to serve dinner for two about 15 times!  That’s nearly four months of once-a-week meals.

But the real icing on the Anniversary Cake is that like every protein at Joe’s, you are purchasing quality in both taste and what’s good for you! Our Reserve Pork is from Indiana, is raised without hormones and antibiotics, is raised sustainably and humanely with regard for both humans and animals and graded to be pH balanced (Low pH pork resembles “the other white meat” and is pale and lacking flavor!). A balanced pH means that our fresh pork is never injected with a saline solution, yuck!

The same care and research we use in sourcing our pork is done with our beef, poultry and seafood.

The vast majority of our beef is raised and processed in Indiana by farmers we know. Most of you know our tradition of raising our famous Joe’s Farm Fresh Turkey and for years have tasted the difference in our chicken compared to anywhere or anyone else’s. We made sure our seafood was Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified and sustainable years before most groceries even knew of the importance of sustainable seafood.

So, what’s ahead in 2023?  Here is what we see as the three most important trends of 2023.

Trend #1: Higher Beef Prices with Lower Quality due to Supply Issues and Corn Prices

While Joe’s beef will be in good supply and remain of the highest quality, it is still priced at the whim of the market. That market is driven by supply and feed costs, and neither are trending in the right direction for consumers.

Nationally, steers and production beef (think grocery) costs are driven by a process where males are castrated (changed from bulls to steers) and then grazed on grass for 6 months. Then these “feeder cattle” are sold to large feed lots where they are implanted with a growth pellet, fed corn for a year to fatten up and then slaughtered at 18-24 months. Drought conditions in Texas and Oklahoma where 54% of feeder cattle are raised were so bad this year that ranchers were forced to sell their cows (female breeders) to slaughter. That means fewer future steers and a lower supply nationwide (estimated 10-12% of breeding cows forfeited). Lower supply means higher prices in the market.  While it will take two full years to see the complete impact of the drought, the market will bake this fact into prices as early as this year.

At Joe’s, our Indiana beef takes nearly 36 months to raise, but even local farmers’ prices will move with the bigger market.

At nearly $7 per bushel, corn is trending well above its under $4 a bushel pricing from 2014 through late 2020. A lack of U.S. supply is not the reason to blame as much as demand from foreign countries and high input costs of fertilizer and equipment.

This means higher prices for any animals that eat corn (poultry and beef, not pork). The silver lining is the pure cost of corn is partially reflected in poultry and beef costs in 2022 already.

But what it does not reflect is the effect of feeding less corn to cattle. Farmers can’t afford to feed their cattle as well in the long term. Unfed cattle mean the percentage of beef that is grading USDA Choice or higher is dwindling. How much? We know of large-scale cattle processing plants that previously had above 80% of their cattle grading Choice or higher that are now under 40%.

This means all USDA Choice beef (Beef is graded into thirds: lower 1/3, middle and top 1/3.) is in poor supply and that you will pay more as you move up in quality. In 17 years of business, we have never seen the cost spread between USDA Choice and USDA Prime (the grade above Choice) carcasses to be this massive (more than double in some cases where it normally is 13% or less of an increase).

Lower graded cattle also means that national grocery programs that certify quality levels like Certified Angus Beef (CAB) have no choice but to lower their standards because fed cattle are not available, and demand has not changed. This has resulted in in a shift where cattle that used be graded as USDA Select (grade below Choice) are finding their way to be graded as Choice. This “shift” means overall quality at the grocery suffers (see more under Trend #3 too) with groceries forced to sell lower quality meats to keep prices down and customers coming in the door.

Where you buy your beef and who from on a national level has never mattered more!

At Joe’s our beef supply and its feeding has not changed (still hormone and antibiotic free, top 1/3 of Choice or higher, mostly Indiana estimates) as such you are seeing more of a difference now than ever between Joe’s and the grocery in both quality and price. The saying “you get what you pay for” has never been truer!

Trend #2: Poultry, Pork Prices Will be Stable and Seafood Prices Will Increase

Poultry and pork production “turns” (the time it takes from birth to processing) happen much more quickly than beef. As such, we feel we have seen most of the feed cost issues for pork and poultry to have already been reflected in 2022 pricing. In 2023, we will see inflationary costs of overhead, fuel and supplies to move these markets in a normal fashion.

Seafood pricing stands on its own due to the scarcity of high-quality wild caught fish. There are lots of causes of this scarcity such as overfishing, world demand, fuel costs and climate change all playing a role. The best wild caught fish is going to be expensive. Luckily, farmed fishing/aquaculture has really improved in the last five years in its efforts to raise seafood in a healthy and environmentally friendly manner. What used to be taboo in terms of farmed fish (think “Ocean Perch”) has now been replaced with MSC recognized operations such as those raising U.S. Tilapia, Redfish and Striped Bass. Joe’s has already introduced such sustainable fish in addition to our wild caught catches!

Trend #3: Selling Frozen Food as Fresh: Suspended Fresh

Those of you that have bought a Joe’s Farm Fresh Turkey already know that the USDA allows poultry producers to keep meat between 26 and 32°F for six months or less and sell it as “fresh.” Joe’s consumers have already tasted and seen the difference in buying a true farm fresh product.

To ensure a national beef supply and help groceries with better price protection, the rules regarding poultry were extended to beef in 2018. This has caused the establishment of a whole new industry called Suspended Fresh.

Suspended Fresh companies have inserted themselves between national beef producers (Tyson, National, JB Swift, Excel, etc.) and groceries. They buy and hold the product in “suspense” (between 26-32°F) for up to six months and then release it to the grocer. This way the grocer can buy when beef costs are low (outside of grilling season) and at the same time guarantee their supply (and meet future demand) at the same time. The grocery store can also legally label and sell the beef as “fresh.” As crazy as it sounds, it’s perfectly legal and now commonplace.

The industry already estimates that 70% of grocery beef west of the Mississippi is now procured through a Suspended Fresh process. By the end of 2023, it’s estimated that figure will jump to 80%. East Coast numbers will jump above 50% this year. We have former employees at large grocery chains and can tell you with certainty it’s already a common practice here in Indiana.

At Joe’s, we know that delivering Quality, Value and Service starts with earning your trust and you have our pledge that we will not participate in this Suspended Fresh trend.