In The News This Month – March 2021




It’s Spring! The season after winter and before summer, where vegetation begins to appear, plants and trees begin to grow, and flowers start to bloom. It is often described as a time of rebirth and perhaps Spring 2021 can be seen as a re-opening season as more and more of the population receives the Covid-19 vaccine and more of the country starts to open. The news is becoming less negative and stories of travel, school openings, and returning to in-house dining can be heard throughout the country. However, as I browsed this month’s industry news, I came across an article in WATTPoultry about the fact that many meat and poultry workers are not actually taking advantage of the vaccination clinics. This hesitancy is definitely a challenge for the industry, especially now that many states are making poultry plants a priority for vaccination eligibility. Hopefully as time passes there will be more buy-in from individuals in areas that are able to have access to vaccination clinics.

As much debate continues regarding California’s Proposition 12, it looks like the implementation of this controversial law might be delayed. Prop 12 was supposed to become effective on January 1, 2022, but due to a “collection of circumstances” that date could be postponed. Among the many concerns regarding Proposition 12 the main factor continues to be the feasibility of meeting the demands set by the California law, especially meeting them within the set deadlines. News of this potential delay for implementation could be a positive for some egg producers that have been struggling to transition their operations to cage-free laying systems.

In the spirit of the Spring season with its more temperate weather it was pleasantly delightful to read about the effects of “cool” cows.  Obviously being a native Californian I grew up hearing about “happy” cows producing the best milk, but it turns out cooler cows can actually provide more milk. Who knew that cooling technology, like fans and sprinklers, for dairy cattle would have such an effect on milk production! Speaking of cows, the 2021 Power of Meat Survey was recently presented at the 2021 Annual Meat Conference. “Meat reemerges as the king of the pandemic era”. This makes sense considering people spent more time cooking at home during the pandemic. I think we all got a little more friendly with our local butchers over the last year. With the rising popularity of the Keto lifestyle and consumers stocking up during the pandemic it is not surprising that meat was king.

Rounding out the months news, there has been a lot of noise around traceability and big data within the agrifood industry. Savvy consumers are pushing for more information regarding the origins of the food they purchase, and they want this information digitally. A lot of food corporations are turning to blockchain technology to track this data. Consumers likely believe that enabling the traceability of information in the food supply chain will help improve food safety. Blockchain technology is a secure way to store and manage data and facilitates the use of data-driven innovation for “smart farming”. Challenges for the industry lie in adapting these new technologies, but the industry will need to catch up as more consumers demand this type of information.


Monica Lizar

Account Manager

Aeros, a Cultura Company


Feed and Grains:

IGC projects record grain output in 2020-21

Global grain production in 2020-21 is forecast to increase to a record 2.224 billion tonnes, according to the most recent grain market report from the International Grains Council.

Output in 2020-21 is expected to be 39 million tonnes larger than the previous year and 9 tonnes higher than last month’s projection.

The IGC said record harvests are forecast for wheat (774 million tonnes) and corn (1.139 billion).

Despite the projections for record production, the IGC expects a fourth consecutive drawdown of world carryover stocks, to 609 million tonnes, down 8 million tonnes from 2019-20. The Council said the drawdown is entirely due to further depletion of corn inventories.

Read full article here


Wheat Nears 3-month Low on Supply Prospects; Soy, Corn Also Decline

U.S. wheat futures fell to their lowest level of 2021 on Thursday, pressured by improving global production prospects and a firmer dollar, which tends to make U.S. grains less competitive globally, analysts said.

Corn and soybean futures also eased, following broad declines in commodities along with position-squaring ahead of key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports next week.

As of 12:15 p.m. CDT (1715 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade May wheat was down 11-3/4 cents at $6.13 per bushel, after dipping to $6.09, the contract’s lowest level since Dec. 28.


Read full article here



Proposition 12 effective date could be delayed

California’s Proposition 12 law is supposed to become effective on January 1, 2022, but the implementation of that law might be postponed, said Steve Meyer, economist with Partners for Production Agriculture.

Proposition 12, which was passed by a ballot initiative in California in 2018, will make it illegal for eggs from caged layer systems to be produced or sold in the state. It will also make it illegal for pork from farms that use gestation stalls or crates to be produced or sold in California.

Speaking during the March 22 session “Market Outlook for Meat & Poultry,” held during the 2021 Annual Meat Conference, Meyer said there is a collection of circumstances that might postpone the effective date for the law.

One factor is there is pending litigation against California regarding the law. Some states consider it unconstitutional for one state’s laws to dictate the agricultural production practices done in other states. The North American Meat Institute, a co-host of the Annual Meat Conference, has also challenged the law.

Read full article here


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, March 24th, 2021.


  • Shell inventory was up by 2.8 percent, following a gain of 4.6 percent increase last week. The trend over four weeks confirms increased demand relative to supply with implications for prices extending past the middle of March leading into the April 2nd Easter weekend. Buyers are purchasing in quantity to fill the pipeline before Easter and to preempt subsequent price rises. It is noted that a large number of molted hens continue to return to production. Prices for Extra Large and Large in the Midwest were unchanged this past week and expected to stabilize or fall moderately with lower post-Easter demand with mild oversupply contributing to excess inventory. There is some prospect of a return of the food service sector as liquid and dried-egg prices rise with reopening of the economy despite a plateau in the recent decrease in COVID-19 incidence rates in many regions, offset by optimism over more rapid deployment of vaccine.
  • The U.S. flock in production was up 0.4 million from the week of March 17th to 322.9 million, with about 3.0 million molted hens resuming production within weeks. The Industry has demonstrated beneficial restraint in flock placement.
  • The USDA average Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large and Large sizes were unchanged from the previous week at averages of 135.5 and 133.5 cents per dozen. Mediums were up 3.8 percent at an average of 110.5 cents per dozen. The recent rise in prices reflects increased demand countered by a moderate increase in the U.S. flock in production. Broad demand from retail is evident as pipelines are refilled and food service is restored moving towards Easter. The increase in inventory over three successive weeks and a slowing of the trajectory in the rise in Midwest prices to stability this past week is however of concern.
  • The Midwest price for breaking stock was down by 4.4 percent to an average of 67.5 cents per dozen. Checks in the Midwest were 1.6 percent higher to 62.0 cents per dozen.

Read full article here 




10 takeaways from the 2021 Power of Meat Report

Retail sales of meat and poultry flourished during COVID-19. To ensure continued success post-pandemic, the industry will need to find ways to maintain consumer interest and provide education about sustainability, animal welfare, health and transparency, Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, said during “The Power of Meat 2021: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shopper’s Eyes” at the 2021 Annual Meat Conference.

The Power of Meat Survey is conducted annually and the presentation of the survey was sponsored by Cryovac. Roerink highlighted 10 survey findings that retailers and poultry and meat processors can utilize to better serve the U.S. retail consumer.

Meat reemerges as king of pandemic era retail:  Consumers spent more time cooking at home in 2020 compared to recent years. As a result, meat department dollars and volume increased 19.2% and 11% respectively. Retail stores also saw increased meat trips and increased spending per trip, as consumers stocked up pantries in preparation for self-quarantine and/or other social distancing measures, with household penetration remaining high.

Read full article here 



Poland reveals new spike in avian flu cases

With the discovery of an HPAI “hot-spot” in one region last week, it is clear that Poland’s battle to control highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is not yet over.

At least 17 new outbreaks have been confirmed by the chief veterinary office. All of these affected commercial farms. Of the total, 13 were located in one community in the county of Kalisz in Greater Poland (Wielkopolskie). Additional premises in the area were sampled for further testing. Total numbers and types of poultry involved are not reported.

Previously, presence of H5N8 HPAI virus had been confirmed in a mixed flock of more than 141,000 meat turkeys and broiler chickens in another town in the same county. Almost 9,700 meat ducks have tested positive for the virus at an unspecified location in the same province, Greater Poland. Elsewhere in Poland, a flock of more than 38,000 breeder ducks was affected in the southwestern province of Lower Silesia (Dolnoslaskie). In the neighboring province of Opole, outbreaks were reported in two duck flocks — one of breeders and one of meat birds.

These latest outbreaks bring Poland’s total this year to 51. As of March 22, the country’s outbreaks have reached 72 so far this winter, according to the European Reference Lab for avian influenza, IZSVe. These include 25 outbreaks among meat turkeys, 16 in laying hens, and 16 in meat ducks.

Read more from France, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, & Ukraine here



Turkey production declines for third consecutive year

Domestic turkey production fell slightly in 2020 as the country and the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read full article here



ASF the dominating factor in pork market uncertainty

China’s herd restocking hits some bumps, Vietnam begins recovery, Germany continues to struggle with disease.  African swine fever (ASF) continues to be a major driver of the world’s pork markets, causing uncertainty, especially in China and Germany, according to a new Rabobank report.

China’s restocking efforts have had some challenges, with outbreaks of the disease continuing throughout the winter, Rabobank said in its global ASF update for March. Adding to those challenges were illegal ASF vaccines, new variants of the ASF virus and other pig diseases, including porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

“As the ASF virus mutates and becomes more difficult to control, biosecurity will remain the most effective way to defend the herd,” the report said.

While restocking has slowed, Rabobank said it believes China’s sow herd is 10% to 15% larger than it was one year ago. The country’s full recovery from ASF is not expected before 2023.

Read full article here


ASF: Major risk factor to Chinese pork production

A senior government official in the Philippines says the disease should be treated as a national emergency:  Last week, the Chinese government further stepped up efforts to bring African swine fever (ASF) under control.

According to the South China Morning Post, among the latest measures are a ban on imports of live pigs and pork products from Malaysia since the first ASF outbreaks have been confirmed in that country. So far this year, there have also been six confirmed ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs in China.

After the loss of half of the Chinese pig population to ASF, the Beijing government recently described ASF as a “major risk factor” to the nation’s pork sector. Heavy mortalities unbalanced the pork market, and sent pork prices up sharply, which pushed up inflation for consumers in China. The authorities there have also begun to crack down on the use of fake and unauthorized vaccines of unknown efficacy.

Read full article here




Profit Tracker: Cattle in the Red, Hog Rally Continues

Average feedyard margins slipped below breakeven for the first time this year, with calculated losses of about $1 per head. Hog producers found average profits of $56 per head as the rally in hog prices continued.

Feedyard margins declined $16 per head last week despite cash cattle prices that were slightly higher than the previous week at $114.28 per cwt. A year ago cattle feeders lost an average of $90 per head the third week of March, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Average closeouts saw total costs for finishing a steer about $26 per head higher than the previous week at $1,555, including about $10 more per head for feed and $16 more for feeder cattle.

Read full article here




Research explains why cool cows can provide more milk

With increasing global temperatures, dairy cattle face heat stress more frequently throughout the year than in the past. Thanks to cooling technology, dairy cattle can enjoy a better quality of life, but farmers and consumers may wonder if cattle comfort results in more milk.

A study conducted by University of Georgia researchers determined that dairy cattle cooled with fans and sprinklers respond better to heat stress, produce more milk and have healthier mammary glands.

In a recently published article in the Journal of Dairy Science, UGA scientists determined how evaporative cooling and zinc sources in feed impact mammary glands and heat-shock responses in lactating dairy cattle. The article was authored by Ruth Marisol Orellana Rivas while she completed her doctoral degree in dairy science under the guidance of associate professor Sha Tao and now Professor Emeritus John Bernard in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“Heat stress represents a major burden to the dairy industry, especially in the United States and I would say worldwide. It has been studied for many years, but there are so many things we still need to understand, especially at the physiological level,” said Orellana Rivas, who primarily conducted cellular lab research for this project.

Read full article here




Organic industry calls for reissuance of organic livestock rule

Pressure is building on the Biden administration to restore the organic animal welfare rule that was blocked and withdrawn by the previous Trump administration, according to the Organic Trade Association.

In just a few short decades, organic has become one of the fastest growing segments in food and agriculture, reaching $55 billion in annual sales last year. The previous administration took a very narrow interpretation of the Organic Foods Production Act stating that USDA did not have the authority to regulate animal welfare for organic livestock, but industry groups contend that has created competitiveness challenges for those who operate under higher welfare standards.

A letter sent to the White House from four senior lawmakers calls upon the administration to “reinstate the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Final Rule following the Trump administration’s withdrawal and subsequent four-year legal battle to block its implementation.” The letter to President Joe Biden was signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and John Tester, D-Mont., and Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. Leahy and DeFazio are the original two authors of the Organic Foods Production Act, and Tester and Pingree are longtime organic farmers.

Read full article here


COVID vaccine hesitancy a challenge for meat industry

Workers at meat and poultry plants are increasingly becoming prioritized to become vaccinated for COVID-19, but there are still cases of those workers being reluctant to receive the vaccines.

KatieRose McCullough, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) indicated that she was pleased that there is more vaccine capacity and that more people in the meat and poultry industry are given early priority by their state health agencies to become vaccinated.

“We’re finding there’s a lot of buy-in from states to be prioritizing meat and poultry workers, as they should be,” McCullough said during the Annual Meat Conference on March 24. “Right now is really a great time where a lot of people and a lot of plants are being able to have vaccination clinics.”

Despite that, not everybody who is eligible to receive a vaccine wants to take advantage of the opportunity.

Read full article here

Pet food, product supply disruptions persist as sales grow

Pet food and pet product supply and transportation issues stemming from the pandemic are likely to continue throughout 2021 and into the first part of 2022, said Steve King, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), even as the U.S. pet care market has experienced notable growth that will also carry through this year.

Presenting a “state of the industry keynote” during Global Pet Expo (GPE) Digital Access 2021, King explained reasons for the disruptions, beginning with increased, and changing, consumer demand for pet foods and other pet products. After the initial spike in sales in March 2020 as pet owners stocked up during pandemic lockdowns—King’s co-presenter, Celeste Powers, president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association, called this “emotional stockpiling”—there was an inevitable decline. But then pet food and pet care sales rebounded as owners practiced “thoughtful stockpiling” later in 2020 and as more people added pets to their households.

As a result, the latest APPA data on the total U.S. pet market showed growth of 6.7% in 2020, reaching US$103.billion for the year—the first time sales have ever topped US$100 billion, King noted. One growth driver was pet food, which increased 9.7%, hitting US$42 billion.

Much of the growth also came from e-commerce. In separate GPE presentations, David Sprinkle, publisher and research director at Packaged Facts, said e-commerce accounted for 30% of the overall U.S. pet care market, up from 24% in 2019. Specific to pet food, Brad Boldridge, director of neighborhood pet retail for Nielsen, said U.S. pet owners spent 46% more on pet food online in 2020 vs. 2019.

Read full article here

Establish traceability with blockchain

As demand grows for thorough information regarding the origins of the food consumers purchase, more and more companies are digitally delivering this information. During the recent Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) business conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Philip Harris, co-founder and president of, described the extent to which food corporations use blockchain technology to track information along each step of the supply chain.

“The future of food is in a state of change, especially since the start of the pandemic,” Harris said. “The day will come where this level of traceability will be required to sell in the marketplace – the consumers are going to demand it.”

Read full article here


The information in this newsletter is intended to update our readers of current events.  Any third-party publications are presented for informational purposes only and the views presented in such publications are those of the respective authors.  The views therein are not necessarily representative of Aeros or any other CULTURA company’s views on any particular topic.