In The News Week – October 22, 2020



From October 6th through 9th, I attended the Urner Barry Virtual Executive Conference and Global Protein Summit.  I attended most on-demand breakout sessions and each morning’s keynote speaker.  The time invested in this conference was enjoyable and very informative. 

If you were not able to register and attend this conference, you missed a lot of information on our past, our present, and our future.  I hope those not attending will be able to join next year.  Below are a few highlights I felt noteworthy to share.    

Panel Discussion:  All protein markets

Urner Barry’s Market Reporters Panel Discussion

NEVER in history have all protein markets been affected at the same time.  Not only in the U.S. but across the world!


Urner Barry’s Market Reporters came together for a panel discussion and provided an overview of the biggest impacts protein markets have seen this year, and what trends to expect in the future.  All major proteins were discussed including egg, egg products, beef, pork, and seafood.  This YTD recap and the coming forecast were one of my favorite sessions of the conference.

Day 1 Keynote Speaker:  Scott Rasmussen, Editor-at-Large for Ballotpedia, Author, Co-Founder of ESPN, and Publisher of

Understanding the U.S Political Landscape

As an impartial political analyst, Scott presented a good understanding of past elections, the current national polls, and the current polls performed by his company.  The big question he answered was “Which candidate will be better for the protein industries?”  Answer:  Neither.  Strict regulatory, trade and travel issues will affect either candidate.  The food industry will not be their top of mind.

Day 2 Keynote Speaker:  Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King.

Navigating Through a Global Pandemic

We all are aware of the devastation that Covid-19 has played in the foodservice industry.  But to hear their first-hand story of how Burger King navigated through the crisis was inspiring. My biggest takeaway was their immediate decision to leverage their brand as “a source of good”.  They did this with no cost analysis or ROI calculation, it “just felt right”.  I hope you will have the opportunity the hear Fernando speak sometimes.

Day 3 Keynote Speaker:  John Manzella, Founder, The Manzell Report

Macro-Economic Trends, Global Trade and What’s Ahead

John gave an update on the global landscape, what he sees the future U.S. growth drivers to be, unemployment, and immigration. He predicts many jobs will be replaced by automation in our future.  He sees a mismatch of what is being taught in universities and the skills needed in our current and future marketplace.  He stated there is not a job availability problem, but there is a skilled worker availability problem.

Day 4 Alternative Protein Panelist:  Paul Shapiro, CEO, The Better Meat Company, and Lou Cooperhouse, President and CEO, BlueNalu

Alternative Proteins

I have worked in the animal protein industries since 1986.  The mention of alternative proteins previously made me cringe.  I love my chickens and I love my eggs. However, I gained a greater appreciation for the growing demand for alternative proteins after hearing these panelists.

Notes and Quotes from the panelists:

  • The Food Network has just named a Perdue chicken nugget the best tasting in the market place. It is ½ chicken and ½ plant-based.
  • They are wanting to complement the meat industry, not annihilate it. They want to stand on a pillar of better food. 
  • Polls show that most Americans plan to increase their meat consumption. However, the planet is only so big.  We will need protein from plants and cellular agriculture to feed the world.
  • They report that most meat companies are looking to serve the “flexitarians”.


Feed and Grains:

Soybean prices surge on heels of COVID, ASF

Upward trends for corn, soybean prices continue as demand accelerates.  Though previously expected to remain in the range of US $9 per bushel, soybean prices exceeded US $10.50 per bushel in late September, marking the first time soybeans have sold for more than US $10 since June 2018.

Estimated on-farm prices for soybeans have increased US $1.45 since August, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) October Oilseeds World Markets and Trade report. Projected soybean production for the upcoming 2020-21 season dropped another 1.2 million tons after September’s downward revision, but escalating demand, rather than restricted supply, is primarily driving the increase in prices, according to Mac Marshall, vice president of market intelligence for the United Soybean Board.

Corn prices have also experienced upward trends, though the incline is not as steep. The USDA reports that the average on-farm price for 2020-21 has increased 10 cents to US $3.60 per bushel during the past month.

Read full article here


Wheat Soars to 5-Year High, Corn Hits 14-Month High

Chicago wheat futures rallied to five-year highs on Thursday, as cuts to Argentina’s wheat outlook brought into focus the potential global supply damage possible due to dryness in top wheat producing countries, trader said.

Corn followed wheat, climbing to 14-month highs and soybeans ended higher as exports continue.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade added 21-1/2 cents to $6.18-1/4 per bushel, the highest since Dec. 29, 2014.

CBOT corn ended 6-1/4 cents higher at $4.03-3/4 per bushel after reaching $4.04-1/4, its highest since Aug. 12, 2019 and soybeans rose 6 cents to $10.62-1/4 per bushel.

Read full article here



Free-range egg expansion ‘unsustainable and unnecessary’

The U.S. flock in production was up 0.2 million from the previous week at 311.3 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets

Concerns are growing that further expansion of the free-range egg sector in the UK will create a significant oversupply, driving down prices paid to farmers and reducing profitability.

Concerns have been raised by the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) following the release of an independent report by consultants ADAS, which shows that free-range production has grown by 14% since 2017 to 25 m hens. In the report, ADAS forecasts just a 2% production increase is needed over the next 5 years to meet a predicted growth in the free-range egg demand of just 300,000 cases.

Read full article here


Export of Shell Eggs and Products, January-August 2020.

Shell egg exports from the U.S. during the first eight months of 2020 increased by 5.0 percent in volume and 12.8 percent in total value compared to January-August 2019. Unit value was 6.4 percent higher or 5 cents per dozen for the comparison between 2020 and 2019. The top two importers, Hong Kong and Mexico combined, represented 70.2 percent of volume and 60.3 percent of total value.

The total volume of exported egg products during January-August 2020 increased by 28.4 percent and total value was higher by 9.2 percent compared to January-August 2019. Unit value decreased by 14.9 percent to $2,707 per ton from $3,181 recorded for January-August 2019. This decline reflects the relationship between World supply and demand with Ukraine and India as significant exporters.

Read more from Chick-News here 

Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, October 14th 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was up 0.6 million from the previous week to 312.8 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets reaching maturity.
  • Shell inventory was up 3.6 percent after a 2.6 percent decrease last week indicating restoration of balance between demand and supply. There is some evidence of a return in the foodservice sector as the economy cautiously reopens but the incidence rate of COVID-19 is increasing in some regions.
  • USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large and Large sizes were 7.1 percent higher this past week consistent with seasonal demand to averages of 105.5 and 103.5 cents per dozen respectively. Mediums were up 21.5 percent to 90.5 percent.  Prices will continue to fluctuate as molted hens resume production and pullets commence lay unless offset by a proportional increase in demand moving through the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • The price of breaking stock in the Midwest was up 4.7 percent to an average of 73.5 cents per dozen. Checks were up 3.3 percent to 62.5 cents per dozen.

Read full article here 



VIDEO: Caution is the word for broiler, turkey industry

In a WATT Poultry Chat interview, Dr. Thomas Elam, president of FarmEcon LLC, said both broiler whole bird and broiler parts prices are very weak and the industry is facing potential feed price challenges as well as the continued economic downturn affiliated with the sprawling COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

See Thomas Elam’s video here


How the poultry industry can win against meat alternatives

The poultry industry is searching for innovative ways to tempt consumers away from plant-based meat alternatives or tissue cultured raised meat.

Interest in meat alternatives has skyrocketed in the past few years thanks to new products that better mimic the taste and texture of real meat. In the past, most consumers purchasing meat alternatives were vegans and vegetarians. Today, plant-based consumers are typically people are looking for variety beyond traditional animal proteins, citing animal welfare and environmental concerns.

Tissue cultured raised meat uses real animal cells that are grown in a stainless-steel tank known as a bioreactor. The process can be used to produce a product that resembles chicken, beef, pork and other meats. Although cultured raised meat products aren’t available on the market yet, consumers around the world have expressed interest in trying it.

Read full article here



ASF returns to South Korean pig farms

Since the start of this month, two outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have been confirmed on farms in the South Korean province of Gangwon.

On October 8, 12 cases were suspected among a herd of 721 pigs at a farm in Hwacheon county, according to the country’s agriculture ministry. Its official report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) records that 503 pigs on neighboring premises were culled in order to prevent further spread of the virus.

On the following day, presence of the ASF virus was confirmed at a second farm. This was one of the premises affected by the cull after the initial outbreak, according to the Yonhap news agency. There, two cases were detected out of a herd of 1,020 pigs. Along with 1,833 animals from two neighboring farms, the rest of the herd has been culled.

With more than 4,000 pigs already impacted by these two outbreaks through mortality or culling, South Korea is evidently taking all possible measures to prevent further spread of ASF in its domestic pigs.

Ministry officials imposed an immediate 48-hour ban on the transportation of all livestock facilities in Gangwon and neighboring Gyeonggi, reported Yonhap.

It was exactly one year ago — in October 2019 — that the last South Korean pigs were previously found to be infected with ASF. While cases continued to be detected among the wild boar populations of the northern provinces of Gangwon and Gyeonggi that border North Korea, the nation’s domestic pigs had been free of the disease. In recent weeks, preparations were even made to restart production at previously affected farms. Over a two-month period last year, ASF hit 14 South Korean farms, and more than 400,000 pigs were culled to bring the infection under control.

Read full article here 


Poland’s total ASF farm outbreaks reaches 100

Over the past week, Poland has confirmed one new outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in domestic pigs, bringing its total to the milestone of 100 outbreaks so far this year.

There has been just one case of African swine fever (ASF) in Poland over the past week, reports the nation’s chief veterinary office. Affected was an individual animal in the province of Sub-Carpathia (Podcarpackie). Bringing the country’s total pigs directly affected by the disease to 56,970, this latest outbreak is significant. It brings Poland’s total outbreaks so far this year to 100.

First Polish ASF cases were identified in March. Like the most recent outbreak, many outbreaks since then have involved small backyard herds. However, the disease has also struck some large commercial units, including 16 outbreaks in herds of more than 300 pigs. Cases have been confirmed in seven provinces, with Lublin in the east of the country accounting for 61 of the outbreaks.

Over the past week, Poland’s agriculture ministry has registered a further 12 outbreaks in domestic pigs to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). These included outbreaks starting in the period August 26 to September 24.

Read full article here


New ASF cases among pigs in 5 European states

Reporting new cases of African swine fever (ASF) in domestic pigs over the past week have been Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Russia.

Over the past week, Romania is the European country that has reported the highest number of new cases of African swine fever (ASF) among domestic pigs.

A total of 488 pigs were involved in the 28 outbreaks confirmed by the Romanian veterinary authority. According to the official report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), all these outbreaks started during the month of September. They were widely distributed across the country.

Up to October 4, Romania has recorded a total of 747 ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs so far this year to the European Commission (EC) through its Animal Disease Notification Service. This is around 75% of all the region’s total outbreaks, and the Romanian figure has risen by 144 since the previous update four weeks previously. For the whole of 2019, Romania accounted for 1,724 of the total of 1,908 recorded outbreaks.

Read full article here 



Cattle Market’s Bottom Is In

Cow-calf operations have struggled with profitability much of this year, but Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka says better days may lie ahead. He told AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Thursday his projections suggest that 2020 will be the low-water mark for calf prices and cow-calf profitability.

“Producers were doing really well in 2014 and 2015, but when we compare this year to those years cow-calf profits are down 80%,” Nalivka said. “I think we’ve hit the bottom and we’re moving up now. For two or three years I think (cow-calf profitability) will look pretty good.”

Read full article here:


Additional 5,000-6,000 head daily beef packing capacity would help return U.S. cattle supplies and packing capacity to historical equilibrium.

A new analysis by Rabobank is suggesting that an additional 5,000-6,000 head of daily beef packing capacity would help return U.S. cattle supplies and packing capacity to a historical equilibrium. This level of expansion, the firm noted, would allow the capacity to grow without a sharp contraction in beef cow numbers while still maintaining packer profitability.

The report explained that beef packing historically has been a breakeven business. However, as cattle herd expansion has outpaced capacity, packers have been strategically positioned to capture record margins in recent years.

“While the Tyson Holcomb fire and COVID-19 created acute and unexpected massive imbalances between cattle numbers and the suddenly limited availability of labor and/or facilities, the course of events over the past couple of decades had already created a scenario of relative imbalance,” the report relayed.

Read full article here



Re-Surging COVID-19 Cases Could Impact Markets This Winter

Re-surging COVID-19 cases across the country could impact dairy markets this winter, with little potential relief until March if a vaccine is approved and becomes widely used.

The United States is now reporting 50,000 new cases of COVID per day, reports Dan Basse, an economist and president of AgResources Company. He spoke today on an hour-long Dairy Signal podcast sponsored by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. If the number of COVID cases reaches 70,000 cases per day nationally, it could create much more stress on health care facilities. Case in point: Areas of the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, are already reaching capacity in hospitals and intensive care units.

Increasing cases and rising hospitalizations deaths would likely trigger more restrictions of daily activities, including restaurant seating capacity and in-door dining. Since the beginning of the pandemic, one out of every six restaurants in the U.S. have already closed permanently. Restaurant trade associations project another 20% to 30% of restaurants might not survive through the end of the first quarter in 2021 if COVID doesn’t abate, Basse says.

Read full article here


Dairy launching gaming initiative to reach Gen Z

In an effort to reach a younger generation of consumers, mainly Generation Z (approximately 15- to 20-year-olds), the dairy checkoff is launching an initiative to meet them where they are by partnering with influential “gaming” personalities on the Minecraft game.

Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) noted that nearly 90% of Gen Z classify themselves as gamers, versus 59% of the general population. The gamers are drawn to gaming for the social component, and it increasingly has become a key source of information for Gen Z on important social topics, including sustainability, DMI explained.

According to Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of DMI, the initiative was created after DMI tasked two groups of interns with a scenario in which they had $10 million to create an initiative that would tell the sustainability story to Gen Z.

Read full article here



US agri-food markets begin careful COVID-19 recovery

The U.S. animal protein, dairy, and grains industries have begun to see some recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a report from financial services firm CoBank.

In the quarterly update from October, CoBank’s analysts said a delicate recovery is underway, but more challenges remain ahead.

  • Despite strong storms that swept through the Midwest in August and ruined 550,000 acres of corn and caused more than US$$300 million in property damage to grain elevators in Iowa, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the harvested acres for corn will rise by 3% and soybeans will rise by 11%. Wheat harvested acreage is expected to fall 1%.
  • Chicken is performing better than the other animal proteins in the foodservice sector, due to successes in quick-serve restaurants and take-out service. Some fast food outlets are even seeing sales growth compared with last year.
  • The U.S. beef sector came out of the third quarter in much better shape than it started, with beef and cattle prices rising due to strong domestic demand. Uncertainties in foodservice demand during the upcoming colder months could test beef demand and pricing.
  • S. pork exports slowed significantly over the summer, but the emergence of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany and subsequent trade bans from its key markets could benefit U.S. exports.
  • Foodservice demand for dairy products remains weak, even as milk production is reaching new highs, the report said. The holiday season consumption is uncertain as social distancing measures may alter the usual holiday gatherings.

Read full article here


Bacon-scented masks? Color me curious!

Hormel Foods, parent company of Black Label Bacon, has found a way to make donning a mask not only a health-conscious thing to do as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, but also something that can be pleasing to the senses.

On October 14, the company announced the launch of Hormel Foods Black Label Breathable Bacon, a revolutionary face mask featuring the latest in pork-scented technology with two-ply multi-fiber cloth to keep the smell of bacon wrapped around your nose and mouth.

In addition to the masks having the smell of bacon, the print on the mask includes the Black Label Bacon logo, as well as pictures of bacon.

“We’re continually focused on innovation – from new products, to marketing and distribution – all in an effort to deliver new and exciting ways to experience and enjoy Black Label Bacon,” Nick Schweitzer, senior brand manager of Hormel Foods Black Label Bacon, said in a press release. “In 2020, that means connecting everyone’s favorite bacon scent to the year’s ‘it’ accessory, and in doing so, bring Black Label Bacon closer to our fans.”

Read full article here 


Idaho potato sales find markets in spite of COVID-19 pandemic

Idaho potato sales are threading their way through the COVID-19 pandemic by spiking in retail stores, while recovering in the foodservice sector, marketers say.

“The pandemic has greatly affected retail sales, and we foresee the trend continuing into the coming year,” said Ross Johnson, international marketing director with the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission.

As of late September, dollar sales of potatoes were up by double digits every week since the beginning of March, when the pandemic first broke out across the U.S., Johnson said.

The commission’s retail promotion directors were meeting with retailers, helping them compare their sales to the rest of their market “to help identify areas of opportunity,” Johnson said.

“Many retailers are seeing double-digit dollar increases, but knowing potato shoppers have a higher average basket ring than any other produce shopper requires a category manager’s full attention to make sure you are winning in your market,” Johnson said. 

Read full article here

Trump Administration Invests Up To $100 Million to Increase American Biofuel Sales

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested $22 million out of the up to $100 million in grants available to increase American ethanol and biodiesel sales. These funds were made available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to recipients in 14 states. The initial $22 million in HBIIP investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually.

“Investments made through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program are helping rural communities build stronger economies and will give consumers more choices when they fill up at the pump,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump has expanded ethanol use by unleashing year-round E15, and the result is more demand for American farmers and more affordable fuel for American consumers.”

USDA is funding projects in California, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin.

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.