The areas blanketed in snow are also home to a huge portion of the U.S. cattle herd. Many animals were caught in the storm, killing thousands. Even if the animals survived, cold weather and loss of access to feed led many to lose substantial weight, adding to the meat production loss. These losses devastated ranchers and came at a time when the beef market was already on edge.
Prices for cattle have been exploding, and the storm losses sent prices soaring, just as grilling season demand heats up. June cattle futures blew to new highs, pushing over $1.34 per pound on Thursday. Prices made a major U-turn on Friday, tumbling the maximum 3 cents per pound as traders took profits on bullish bets.