Wholesale and retail Choice beef prices have dropped off somewhat over the past few months, but remain at historically high levels, according to the latest report on meat price spreads from USDA’s Economic Research Service. The report lists the average retail price of Choice beef for April at $4.98 per pound, down from $5.05 in March. The high-water mark for retail beef prices was in January, with retail prices for Choice beef averaging $5.09.

The April average price for all fresh beef, at $4.67 per pound, was down fractionally from the previous month average, but above January’s price of $4.63.

For the first quarter of 2012, retail Choice beef averaged $5.06per pound, and all fresh beef averaged $4.64, both topping the averages from the fourth quarter of 2011 of $4.98 and $4.51 respectively.