In The News This Month – May 2021




As the summer fast approaches many are finally considering travel this year. For some home-bound travelers yearning for a vacation, the question is not whether to book, but when. According to a recent survey, 87% of American travelers are expected to take a trip this summer. It seems logical considering travel rates are still low, but will an increase in travel cause prices to finally rise? We are seeing prices increase everywhere – home prices, lumber costs, consumer goods, food prices, and many others. As we read through the news of this past month, we can see the Ag industry was not spared when it comes to price increases. Grain prices are at an 8-year high and oil prices are six times the year ago level. According to the US Department of Agriculture price increases may be greater later this year and into 2022. Considering all these price increases and the fact that they will continue to rise, planning that perfect summer vacation needs to either happen immediately or contemplate skipping it again this year.  

Also topping the news this month was a shortage in labor, specifically at chicken plants. Many plants are experiencing difficulties in recruiting and retaining workers. The pandemic could be to blame for some of this shortage. In the absence of in-person schools many have opted to stay home to care for children and assist with distance learning.  There is also a thought that the federal benefits and supplements that were created to compact the Covid crises have actually created a disincentive to work. A long-term solution for these plants could be in mechanization and robotics. We have been hearing for a while now about new technology available and perhaps it is financially beneficial to invest capital in this currently available off-the-shelf technology.

More travel this summer can only help the foodservice industry return to pre-pandemic numbers. But is it a true return for this industry that has already seen so much change during Covid? At-home food demand is still expected to hold above pre-pandemic levels as a significant number of people continue to work from home. Although much of the country is re-opening as more of the population get vaccinated, are people ready to return to the office? A recent article in has some interesting insights on building a sustainable post-Covid future of work. We have been fortunate at Aeros that while working remotely we can maintain a great team atmosphere and still provide the same level of service that our customers have grown to expect.

At least in this household the at-home food demand will remain the same. However, I am not sure we will be trying the newest trend I read about this past month. The European Food Safety Agency recently approved a food application for dried yellow mealworm. While products containing insects are classified as novel foods and require authorization, various products containing edible insects have been available on the German market for quite some time. Available or not, I just don’t think I could bring myself to serve this for dinner.


Monica Lizar

Account Manager

Aeros, a Cultura Company


Feed and Grains:

US grain export inspections up 13% week over week

Grain and oilseed inspections for export from all major US export regions in the week ended May 13 totaled 2.9 million tonnes, up 13% from the previous week, up 37% from the same week in 2020, and 19% higher in comparison with the three-year average for the week, the US Department of Agriculture said in its weekly Grain Transportation Report.

By commodity, soybeans led the charge in the latest reported week, with a 27% increase over the previous week, followed by wheat, up 17%, and corn, up 10%.

The increase in inspections was driven by Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections, which totaled 1.074 million tonnes in the week, up 41% from the previous week. By commodity for the week ended May 13 in the PNW, wheat inspections totaled 416,000 tonnes, up 30% from the prior week; corn inspections totaled 647,000 tonnes, up 50% from the prior week, and soybean inspections totaled 11,000 tonnes, up 6% from the previous week.

Mississippi Gulf inspections increased 1% week over week to 1.303 million tonnes. Interior inspections for export were up 11% to 359,000 tonnes, Texas Gulf inspections declined 8% to 103,000 tonnes; Great Lakes exports declined 10% to 33,000 tonnes; and Atlantic region exports fell 46% week over week to 6,000 tonnes.

Year-to-date grain inspections for all regions totaled 58.898 million tonnes, up 39% from the same period in 2020.

Read full article here


Here’s Why China is Aggressively Buying New Crop Corn from the U.S.

China’s appetite for new crop corn is now sitting in uncharted waters. It’s now adding up to historic levels, with USDA confirming the sale of 53.5 million bushels of new crop this week. In total, China has committed to purchasing 321.2 million bushels, or 8.15 million metric tons, since May 10. 

So, what’s driving the increased appetite? Brian Grete of Pro Farmer says there’s one glaring fact: China needs the corn. 

See video and read full article here


Price increases on the way in the United States

With major grain, oilseed and edible oils prices at or near eight-year highs, crude oil prices six times the year-ago level, freight rates soaring and prices for materials (cardboard and aluminum, for example) and other input costs rising, can food price inflation be far behind? Not according to the US Department of Agriculture or many food manufacturing companies. If the expected post-pandemic demand surge develops, as many expect, price increases may be greater later this year and into 2022.

The USDA in late April forecast prices for all food in 2021 to rise 2% to 3% from 2020, when prices were up 3.4% from 2019. Prices in March 2021 in fact were up 3.5% from March 2020. The price of food away from home was forecast to rise 2.5% to 3.5% for the year, with the March figure up 3.7%. Food-at-home prices were forecast to rise 1% to 2% for the year, with March up 3.3%. The USDA classifies 45% of all food sales as away from home and 55% as at home.

Comparisons with a year ago are difficult because it was such an unusual year, including significant volatility in many commodity and ingredient prices and shifts in demand to retail from foodservice as travel slowed considerably and much of the country and world sheltered at home. But just as last year was unprecedented, most expect a demand surge this year as the country and world seek to resume some level of normalcy. Included in such a transition for many is expected to be the resumption of travel, meaning an increase in foodservice demand. Still, it is anticipated that at-home food demand will hold above pre-pandemic levels as a significant number of people continue to work from home.

Read full article here



For egg producers, good communication is now crucial

The egg industry must improve its communication with consumers, particularly now with the change in public attitudes brought about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Early on in the pandemic, the need for good communication was highlighted by the rapid dissemination of misinformation in India. The egg and poultry sectors suffered a huge decrease in consumption as rumors on social media tied the spread of the novel coronavirus to chicken and egg consumption. 

These rumors were not only damaging to the industry, they deprived consumers of good nutrition and essential nutrients at the time when they needed them the most. 

While the Indian poultry and egg sectors reacted quickly, they, nevertheless, had a tough battle to convince consumers of the truth. The example of what occurred in India last year shows us that we must be better prepared to counteract misinformation and become masters of social media. 

The egg sector is facing a number of issues across continents, including welfare and housing systems, the sexing and culling of male chicks and the overall sustainability of animal production.

Read full article here

Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, May 21st, 2021. 


Shell inventory was down by 2.1 percent, following a fall of 3.3 percent last week. The two-week periods of higher prices during mid-February and again in mid-March represented increased demand relative to supply. Prices retreated over the past four weeks to below breakeven given the combination of nest-run, grading, packaging and delivery costs. Chains purchased in quantity over the last two weeks of March to preempt anticipated pre-Easter price rises. A similar situation is anticipated before the Memorial Day Weekend. A large number of molted hens that returned to production prior to Easter have transitioned from laying Medium sized eggs to Large. Industry participants expect buyers to reenter the market as guided by retail demand and inventories in DCs and stores. Generic eggs have been consistently priced high by many chains to maximize margin but this depresses volume of sales to the disadvantage of the industry. There was an indication of chains reducing the prices of generic white eggs this past week.

Currently inventory comprises close to six days of production. Price movement over the past four weeks defies conventional supply to demand relationships and indicates extraneous factors affecting price. This past week wholesale price for Large and Extra-large were essentially stable against a decrease in inventory of 2.2 percent following a reduction in inventory of 3.3 percent the previous week. The commercial shell-egg price discovery system is obviously used by buyers to negotiate lower prices, serving as a self-fulfilling prophecy and a de facto instrument of potential indirect, but not necessarily intentional collusion. The current relationship between producers and chain buyers based on a single price discovery system constitutes an impediment to a free market. The benchmark price amplifies both downward and upward swings and functions to the detriment of the industry. A CME quotation based on Midwest Large, responding to demand relative to supply would be more equitable.

Read full article here 


Will exporting become more attractive for egg producers?

Eggs are typically produced locally, close to where they are consumed, but could there be a much larger export market for eggs than is currently recognized?  

Global trade in shell eggs currently represents only 2.8% of world egg production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization database. The figure is extremely low when compared, for example, to chicken meat (12.3%), and certainly to crops, such as coffee beans (78.5%), cocoa beans (73.4%), soybeans (46.6%) or even wheat (23.4%).    

In 2019, the vast majority of the shell egg trade happened within Europe (57.7%) and Asia (32.2%). In Europe, this trade involves mainly the Netherlands, Poland and Germany, with extremely fluid exchanges, with Germany and the Netherlands ranked both among the biggest exporters and the biggest importers of shell eggs. 

Read full article here



Preparing poultry for a post-COVID world

Foodservice demand will return as the pandemic recedes in the United States, but many workers may never return to their offices.

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic could be in sight thanks to the arrival and increasingly widespread use of vaccines against the disease. That could mean a return to normalcy for a poultry industry that was rocked by the disruptions caused by the disease.

Read full article here 


Sanderson says it’s not best time to build poultry plant

With the current demand for chicken products, the CEO of Sanderson Farms said the company needs to have a new plant now.

However, he added, certain economic factors do not make now the right time to build one.

Speaking during the Goldman Sachs Global Staples Forum last week, Sanderson Farms Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joe F. Sanderson Jr. addressed a question on new plant construction. The company has already made it known that it intends to build a new plant, but had not yet made any announcements on where that plant will be.

Read full article here 


Shortage of Plant Labor-Causes and Solutions

A May 20th article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Chris Quinn points to the shortage of labor affecting production levels in chicken plants in Georgia.  Fieldale Farms in Baldwin claims to be short 1,000 workers, Wayne Farms in Pendergrass has 200 openings. In their quarterly reports, the CEOs of Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson Foods and Sanderson Farms have noted labor availability as a restraint to achieving higher production volume.  Concurrently many participants in the chain from food production through distribution to retail are experiencing difficulties in recruiting and retaining workers required to perform either manual or skilled work.  As the chicken industry emerges from COVID restrictions, it is apparent that recruitment, training and retention will not revert to “business as usual”.  Questions concerning the desirability of the proposed increase in the national minimum wage are now moot with economic reality having overtaken the debate with a  $15 serving as a new base in many areas.

Read full article here 



Meat Projection

Turkey production for 2021 compared to 2020 was reduced by 1.5 percent to 2.559 million metric tons RTC, (5,630 million lbs.). Per capita consumption is projected at 7.0 kg. (15.3 lb.) for 2021, the same as 2020 despite promotions and introduction of further-processed items. Export volume for 2021 is expected to attain to 0.254 million metric tons (560 million lbs.). Values for production and consumption of RTC turkey in 2021 are considered to be realistic, given the prevailing economy, lower poult placements, weekly production levels and inventories.

Read full article here


Jennie-O Turkey Store debuts blended burger line

Jennie-O Turkey Store  has launched Jennie-O turkey burger blends in selected markets across the U.S.
“We know that people are becoming increasingly interested in adding more plant-focused foods to their diets,” said Ryan Moorlag, brand manager at Jennie-O. “Our new turkey burger blends make it easy to marry plant-based ingredients with lean meats.”
Blended meats, where part of a meat product is replaced with plant protein, appeal to the growing number of consumers that define themselves as  flexitarians. 
Flexitarian make an effort to reduce, but not totally eliminate their meat consumption. These consumers frequently cite perceived health benefits to reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to animal welfare concerns as motivations for the diet change. 

Families are also interested in blended meats as an easy way to add vegetables to meals. 

Read full article here



Robust Pork and Poultry Demand from Overseas Leads to U.S. Trade Surplus

USDA says there is robust demand for U-S meats right now, especially pork and poultry. The increase in demand led to a trade surplus last year.

USDA shows by volume, see broiler meat was the most traded U.S. meat last year. But pork exports further contributed toward the growth in the meat trade surplus.


Read full article here


Research microbiologists Douglas Gladue and Manuel Borca from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service discuss details about some of the vaccine candidates for African swine fever.

Listen to Feed Strategy’s podcast here


Russia reports ASF outbreaks in 5 western regions

While outbreaks continue sporadically in small herds of domestic pigs in Romania, new cases have been registered among the wild boar populations there as well as in Germany, Hungary and Latvia.

In Russia, African swine fever (ASF) has been detected in Samara oblast for the first time since December 2020, according to the latest report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The disease was discovered in a backyard herd of six pigs on April 21.

Read full article here



Modest changes forecast for 2022 animal protein production

Total red meat and poultry production is forecast to increase by less than 1% in 2022 compared with 2021, according to USDA’s latest “Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook.”

Beef production in 2022, on the other hand, is expected to decrease about 2%, to 27.3 billion pounds, as drought conditions quicken the pace of cattle slaughter in second-half 2021, likely reducing cattle supplies in 2022.

Read full article here


Livestock groups unite on need to address cattle markets

Cattle producers have faced significant challenges over the last few years. And as Brett Crosby, fifth-generation cattle rancher from Wyoming, explains, 2020 was a tipping point for everybody.

Crosby, who also serves as a board member of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, was one of just under two dozen members of the cattle industry who came together May 10 at the request of the Livestock Marketing Association to discuss challenges involved in the marketing of finished cattle with the ultimate goal of bringing about a more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.

Four meatpacking companies control over 80% of the cattle processing industry. “This simple fact leaves the cattle industry particularly vulnerable to market disruptions,” says Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, while speaking about the cattle market challenges during a House Agriculture Committee discussion on May 18.

Read full article here



Canada’s dairy tariff-rate quota system challenged under trade enforcement mechanisms in USMCA.

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai announced May 25 that the United States has requested and established a dispute settlement panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review measures adopted by the Government of Canada that USTR says “undermine the ability of American dairy exporters to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers.”

Dairy industry groups, including the U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association, have been calling for full enforcement of Canada’s trade obligations given Canada’s ongoing refusal to change how it handles dairy market access under USMCA. Initiating an official dispute settlement will, under USMCA rules, establish a panel to determine whether Canada has been violating its trade obligations. If the panel determines a lack of compliance, the U.S. would then be granted the right to impose retaliatory duties if Canada fails to fix its problematic TRQ administrative practices.

Read full article here


International network to exchange dairy data

The largest-ever international dairy data partnership — bringing together milk recording organizations and national databases across 13 countries — launched in October 2020. The International Dairy Data Exchange (iDDEN) represents approximately 200,000 dairy herds, or 20 million dairy cows, according to the announcement, which noted that iDDEN that is aimed at streamlining data exchange among dairy herds, milk recording organizations and dairy equipment manufacturers as well as other dairy-related organizations.

IDDEN was established to operate as a nonprofit organization by seven groups providing dairy data services in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and the U.S.

Read full article here



USDA Dishes Out More Details on Possible Climate-Smart Farming Practices in New Report

USDA’s is giving more insight into climate initiatives and how ag could play a part. The agency issued a 90-day progress report on what it calls climate-smart agriculture and forestry.

The strategy includes broad ideas, but does not provide specific goals as of yet. The report does not mention establishing a carbon bank, either. However, it does note there are voluntary markets for carbon where agriculture and forestry can provide “carbon offsets or credits”.

There is no mention of using the department’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) spending authority to make payments to farmers. It outlines some of the agency’s plans to work along with President Biden’s executive order on tackling climate issues at home and abroad with seven main areas of focus.

See video and read full article here


Sustainable poultry feed innovation recycles organic waste

New technology can convert organic byproducts and waste into a healthy, sustainable feed ingredient for poultry.

“Technology can complement conventional methods of farming grain by utilizing waste produced on the farm. Waste includes husks and other biologic materials. In the case of corn, technology can support poultry operations by ensuring higher survival of animals against disease challenges by including the novel proteins that we produce from agricultural waste by including these into the finished diets,” Dr. Suresh Menon, CEO, Menon Renewable Products, said.

Consumers, led by Gen Z and millennials, are becoming increasingly thoughtful about what they consume. This means that values like sustainability now play a larger role in purchasing decisions and could continue to impact product sales going forward. As a result, retailers have put increasing pressure on the supply chain to innovate more sustainable approaches.

Over half of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in monogastric animal protein production are linked to feed formulation, so finding ways to make feed production more sustainable is an easy way for poultry producers to reduce their environmental impact.

Read full article here


Are you ready for the return to work?

As countries – and companies – gradually re-open, what does the future of work look like? What approach should agribusiness leaders take in a new climate that has been impacted by mirrored changes in technology and personal resilience? According to Deloitte, organizations can proactively and positively design the future of work by focusing on belonging, well-being, and a culture of knowledge that fuses technology and humanity. Learn more.

Here are some hallmarks of the here-is-now future:

  • Belonging: COVID-19 reminded us that people are motivated at the highest levels when they can connect their work contributions to a greater purpose and mission. Consider, for instance, how workers in the food industry found meaning in their jobs as their companies provided much-needed sustenance for consumers concerned about feeding themselves and their families.
  • Designing work for well-being: Now is the time to embed well-being into every aspect of the design and delivery of work itself and to fundamentally redesign work toward outputs instead of activities. Ultimately, this opens up the possibility for workers to both live and perform at their best.
  • The post-generational workforce: COVID-19 proved that generalizing by age alone can lead to incorrect conclusions. While initially thought to be a virus that only affected the elderly, people soon learned that others were not invulnerable. Organizations staging a return to work can apply this lesson to the workforce, using a data-driven approach to better understand workers’ unique attributes, needs, and dimensions and segment their workforce accordingly.
  • Putting AI in super teams: The pandemic confirmed that while technology can augment and supplement work, it does not replace what is needed from humans. Organizations can rethink ways they integrate teams of humans and technology, using these tools as augmentation or collaboration strategy and build a culture of knowledge.

Read full article here


What Does Food and Fuel Demand Look Like Post-COVID?

As it appears summer consumer behaviors are more normal in 2021 than in 2020, ag economist Michael Swanson from Wells Fargo joined AgriTalk to share his insights for what an ag economy looks like post-COVID. 

Regarding restaurants vs. eating at home, Swanson is surprised how quickly the population is spending its food dollar away from home. 

“We saw the April numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis at $55 billion–that’s kind of their annualized number–and that’s only a billion off the record right before COVID hit. So I’m predicting right now that even when we see the May and June numbers, now that California and New York are opening up again, we’re going to see record spending away from home,” he says. “That shows there’s a pent up demand for having somebody else cook and clean up.”

Read full article here


What’s for dinner? Edible Insects find a Potential Market in Germany

On May 3, 2021, the European Union’s European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) approved a novel food application for dried yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) and thereof derived products. Mealworms are the first edible insect to be approved for food use in the member states based on (EU) Regulation 2015/2283 “REGULATION (EU) 2015/2283 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on Novel Foods”. This decision allows the commercialization of this item as a novel food across the European Union market for the applicant, a French insect producer. EFSA published its safety assessment of dried yellow mealworm on January 13, 2021. While this particular novel food authorization grants a five-year commercialization period for the applicant only due to the EU Novel Food legislation data protection component, other companies utilizing the approved ingredient may benefit as well. According to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (ipiff) 1 , the approved applicant may also decide to share their protected scientific data with other producers of dried yellow mealworm. Ipiff is the umbrella association of the European edible insect industry.

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.