In the News Week – December 3, 2020



While researching the recent news, I found disturbing headlines such as these:

  • A natural disaster … in all 50 states is unfolding just as travelers disperse nationwide after Thanksgiving
  • 26 states set hospitalization records just last week
  • Professor says problem is people not having income to purchase basics, including food

These are disturbing words, and we cannot even turn on our TV without hearing them.  Moreover, it is hard not to overly dwell on these.  True, we do need to know what is going on in the world around us.  However, I thought it would be important to spotlight some interesting and lighter headlines for you. 

  • Following this year’s annual presidential turkey pardon, Corn, along with his alternate, Cob, will retire to a quiet life in a college town
  • The National Chicken Council asked American consumers some questions about the holiday… survey says:
    • More than half said they would replace traditional options for chicken wings as part of their Thanksgiving (57%) or Christmas (61%) dinner
    • 56% of those surveyed said they would be happy to receive chicken as a holiday gift
  • AEB president and chief executive officer Emily Metz stated that eggs are currently in almost 94% of household fridges and counting, which Metz said is an incredibly high penetration rate and, “frankly, a happy problem.”
  • After a year full of uncertainties, global animal protein is expected to rise again
  • Farmers have not faltered during the pandemic
    • They recognized and embraced their obligation to continue to supply food to grocery stores
  • Research shows promise:  the use of lasers could be a way to keep avian flu away

– Anthony Barton 


Feed and Grains:

IGC revises global corn output downward

LONDON, ENGLAND — Global corn production in the 2020-21 marketing year was revised downward by 10 million tonnes in the International Grains Council’s (IGC) latest monthly Grain Market Report released on Nov. 26.

The IGC said the reduced output was mainly linked to smaller crops in the United States, European Union and Ukraine.

Overall global grain production was revised downward by 7 million tonnes from the October report but is still forecast to be 33 million tonnes higher than the previous year at 2.219 billion tonnes.

Global soybean output for 2020-21 also was revised lower by 5 million tonnes month-on-month to 365 million tonnes, which would still be a record.

Likewise, the IGC trimmed its rice production forecast by 1 million tonnes from the previous month to 503 million tonnes, but it would still be 6 million tonnes higher than in 2019-20 and a new peak.

Wheat production was revised upward by 1 million tonnes month-on-month to 765 million tonnes, which would be a record.

Read full article here


China rejects the claim its imports are cause for high global grain prices

BEIJING, CHINA — China affirmed its increased grain imports of corn and wheat are not the reason for rising global grain prices, Bloomberg reported.

A Chinese official attributed the increase in prices to the continued coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and food security uncertainty.

Huang Hanquan, an official with the National Development & Reform Commission, noted export restrictions and food reserve stockpiling have created a jump in global prices, according to The Economic Daily.

Huang said it is imprudent to tie China’s increased grain imports to rising prices since China only accounts for a tenth of global trade, Bloomberg reported.

Read full article here


Pandemic weighed on global ethanol trade

Weighed down by the COVID-19 pandemic and global stay-at-home orders, U.S. ethanol exports at the end of the marketing year were down 12% year over year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Over the course of the marketing year (September 2019 to August 2020), U.S. ethanol exports, which the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) said account for nearly 60% of global trade, faced losses in fuel markets while staying relatively flat in industrial-use markets. New markets did emerge as ethanol demand increased in support of human health for sanitizing applications.

“In a typical year, about a quarter of U.S. ethanol exports are destined for industrial use markets. For some months in 2020, that shot up to half,” said Brian Healy, USGC director of global ethanol market development. “While the full effects of the pandemic have not been realized, stay-at-home orders were just reissued in many European Union member countries, and policy developments continue to move forward in critical markets that will drive ethanol demand in the future.”

Read full article here



US egg carton shortage to extend through holidays

Egg producers have been struggling to find cartons to package their products for months, and an end does not seem to be in sight.

“Egg packaging, in general, remains in tight supply nationally. Demand for our products has remained strong all throughout the summer months and into the fall,” said Phil Laughlin, vice president of strategic accounts with Dolco Packaging, which is a manufacturer of polystyrene foam egg cartons in the United States.

The upcoming holidays certainly will not help this issue. “The holidays will be a difficult time for all egg packaging providers with little to no ability to build pre-holiday inventories nationally. Although there are likely to be fewer large family gatherings, we anticipate that egg consumption will stay steady during the holidays. This is because families continue to enjoy meals at home on a regular basis,” Laughlin said.

Read full article here


Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 26th, 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was seasonally up 3.8 million from the previous week to 322.6 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets reaching maturity in anticipation of December demand.
  • Shell inventory was down a noteworthy 12.2 percent after a 2.0 percent decrease last week, representing the third sequential weekly decline despite a progressively larger producing flock. This indicates a balance between demand and supply with implications for prices going forward even with the sharp increase in supply. There is some evidence of a return in the food service sector as liquid and dried egg prices firm and the economy cautiously reopens but the incidence rate of COVID-19 is increasing sharply in many regions suggesting more restrictions.
  • The USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium sizes were unchanged from the previous week at 102.5, 100.5 and 86.5 cents per dozen respectively. As of last week, Midwest prices were markedly lagging corresponding weeks in 2019 and the 3-year average. Prices should continue to rise with seasonal demand despite molted hens resuming production and pullets commencing lay. An increase in shell egg and liquid demand should be evident moving into the last month of 2020.
  • The Midwest price of breaking stock was down 7.1 percent to an average of 65 cents per dozen. Checks in the Midwest were down 6.4 percent to an average of 58.5 cents per dozen.

Read full article here


American Egg Board plots new course

The American Egg Board (AEB) has introduced its new Strategic Vision & Five-Year Plan after it was approved by the AEB board at its annual board meeting in September. Implementation is now underway.  The ambitious plan includes creation of an innovation center and an advanced insights hub, designed to be critical resources for the industry, as well as substantial initiatives surrounding sustainability, advancing egg farmers, seizing global opportunities and more.

“In the wake of a global pandemic, a new consumer has emerged, and what was once old is new again, and what is new has gotten even more rapidly newer,” AEB president and chief executive officer Emily Metz stated. “No one could have predicted the circumstances we, in the food industry — and, more broadly, as human beings — would have encountered in 2020. Yet, the lessons, many of them hard, that have been learned through this period will no doubt be long lasting.”

Read full article here



Use of lasers could be a way to keep avian flu away

The use of lasers could be an effective way to prevent avian influenza from being introduced into free-range poultry flocks, according to a study.

Speaking during the International Egg Commission webinar, AI Prevention and Innovative Biosecurity Measures — How the Dutch Egg Industry is Tackling AI, Dr. Armin Elbers, senior epidemiologist at Wageningen University and Research, noted that several different studies have shown that poultry on free-range layer farms have a higher risk of infection from contact with water or soil in the free-range area contaminated by feces from infected wild birds than layers who are kept inside.

But since some wild birds, such as mallards, often visit at night, the farmers may not always notice them when they stop by for a place to swim and eat.

However, with the peak season for bird migration upon us, concerns of more avian influenza outbreaks in the Netherlands are growing.

“We know wild birds will be visiting,” Elbers said. “We’re looking at ways to scare them away. One method is use of a laser as a repellant device for wild birds.”

Read full article here


Consumers chose chicken over other proteins during COVID-19

Chicken was the primary protein used in American home cooking this year, according to the findings of a recent survey from the National Chicken Council (NCC).

“Chicken has been popular during COVID-19 because it’s easy to prepare and great for meal prepping. A staple of many diverse meals, it is no question that chicken is a versatile protein,” said Council spokesman Tom Super.

“In addition, when the economy takes a downturn as we saw in the spring and early summer, chicken is typically the go-to meat for an affordable protein option. “

The study surveyed 999 Americans who eat chicken about chicken consumption trends.

Consumers flock to chicken

Half of the consumers surveyed indicated they ate chicken more than any other protein during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, three-quarters of Americans said they prepare the protein at home at least once a week, with nearly half (48%) indicating that they actually prepare more chicken at home now than prior to the pandemic.

Chicken sales were up $973 million in October 2020 for retail versus the comparable 2019 period, according to data from IRI.

Read full article here


A sneak peek at the 2020 presidential turkeys

Many annual traditions have understandably had to be postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But luckily, the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey will not be one of them.

Representatives of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) and Iowa Turkey Federation (ITF) are in Washington, D.C. now as they prepare to present the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate to the president of the United States. It is the 73rd year for the occasion.

NTF Chairman Ron Kardel along with his wife, Susie, raised this year’s presidential turkeys on the Walcott, Iowa, farm that has been in the Kardel family since the 1850s. He spoke at a special ceremony on November 23, where those turkeys, who walked nobly on a carpet in front of the podium and were the only ones shown not wearing masks, were introduced.

Read full article here



ASF situation eases in Belgium and Poland

Belgium has been officially declared free of African swine fever (ASF), according to the country’s federal agency for the safety of the food chain, AFSCA.

In October 2019, the agency recorded the last evidence of virus in circulation among wild boar in the southern province of Luxembourg. Last month, AFSCA requested that the European Commission (EC) allow the lifting of “ASF regulated areas.” That measure has now been authorized by the EC, effectively conferring ASF-free status on Belgium. Importantly, according to AFSCA, it will facilitate normal trade in Belgian pig meat within Europe and allow producers to restock. Those in the affected zones were forced to cull their herds after ASF was first detected in wild boar in the province in September 2018.

Read full article here


Tyson suspends workers who allegedly bet on COVID cases

Tyson Foods has suspended an undisclosed amount of employees who allegedly took bets on how many workers would become ill with COVID-19.

The action stems from allegations included in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods. The suit alleges that managers at Tyson Fresh Meats pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, took such bets.

In a statement issued on November 19, Dean Banks, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, said: “We are extremely upset about the accusations involving some of the leadership at our Waterloo plant. Tyson Foods is a family company with 139,000 team members and these allegations do not represent who we are,  or our Core Values and Team Behaviors. We expect every team member at Tyson Foods to operate with the utmost integrity and care in everything we do.”

Read full article here



Faith and Food: How beliefs shape food choices, part 3: Kosher programs

The word kosher comes from the Hebrew word kasher, which means fit, suitable, or pure. Kosher foods are those that conform to standards of kashrut (Jewish dietary law), which are derived primarily from the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy along with long-held rabbinical traditions.

There are over a thousand agencies that certify kosher food items, but only a handful work with kosher meat processing. Kosher-certified meats come from animals that have cloven hooves and chew their cud, and most commonly include beef, lamb and goats. They also certify poultry and certain types of fish (with fins and scales). They exclude all pork and shellfish.

The kosher process includes a rabbi examining the animals while they are live for any defects. Slaughter is performed by a rabbi who has been trained and authorized by a rabbinical authority. After slaughter, the animal’s cavity is inspected for defects, especially the animal’s lungs. If any post-slaughter defects are found in the cavity inspection, the meat is rejected as kosher.

Read full article here


Other issues are also important to beef producers | Yes, there is more going on in the world than election hangover

There are some things going on—or supposed to be going on—in Washington and other places, other than election turmoil.

Congress must do something about a spending bill before the expiration of the Continuing Resolution on Dec. 11. The Democrats have indicated they want a bill that will carry the government through Fiscal Year 2021, ending Sept. 30. The debt ceiling was suspended two years ago until July 2021. 

The Democrats have since come down to $2.5 trillion in spending but still including nearly $1 trillion in dollars to highly indebted state and local governments. They also want higher state income tax deductibility for states with high tax rates. Republicans have opposed those two provisions and some simply oppose so much new spending.

Another COVID relief bill has been talked about since the summer but still languishes. The Democrats started out demanding a $3.5 trillion bill, which the both the Republican leadership and rank and file opposed as too expensive and populated with things irrelevant to the coronavirus’ impact.

Read full article here



Milk production rises again

Milk production in the 24 major milk producing states during October totaled 17.7 billion lb., up 2.5% from October 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest “Milk Production” report showed. It also showed USDA revised its September production number to 17.2 billion lb., up 2.4% from September 2019. The September revision represented a decrease of 5 million lb., or less than 0.1%, from last month’s preliminary production estimate, USDA said.

Read full article here


Mercaris launches organic dairy market analysis

Dairy industry stakeholders can now rely on a regularly updated report to understand market influences, thanks to Mercaris. The newly released report covers market and input insights and comes as organic dairy markets stand positioned for profitability after being largely flat over the last several years.

Mercaris, a leader in data insights for organic grains and oilseeds, announced the report as a complementary information source to its already established dairy trading platform. 

“Our customers know that organic dairy is one of the largest, most important organic food and agriculture categories,” Mercaris co-founder and chief executive officer Kellee James said. “This report covers the complex nature of this category, from growth and value to participants in the marketplace, providing stakeholders with a deeper understanding of this nuanced market to help them make informed decisions.”

Read full article here



Poultry biotech startup wins $1m Grow-NY top prize

Soos Technology, a biotechnology startup based in Kidron, Israel, won the $1 million grand prize in this year’s Grow-NY competition, a global challenge focused on strengthening food and agriculture innovation in central New York, the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, known as the Grow-NY region, according to an announcement from Cornell University.

Soos and six other finalists were awarded a total of $3 million in prizes following the Nov. 17-18 Grow-NY Food & Ag Summit. Administered by Cornell and funded by Empire State Development, Grow-NY capitalized on the virtual format to expand the summit’s reach, with more than 1,500 individuals registered to attend. Finalists pitched their business plans to a panel of judges and an online audience spanning the globe.

“With our Grow-NY prize money, we plan to create over 20 high-paying research and engineering jobs in the next two years by building the New York Poultry Research Hub, which will connect academic research with poultry startups and corporates, to commercialize validated research,” Soos chief executive officer Yael Alter said. “We are thrilled to put down roots in the Grow-NY region.”

The company’s artificial intelligence-driven incubation system is capable of determining sex development in poultry embryos, resulting in a greater number of functional female chicks, the announcement said. The patented technology mitigates the controversial and wasteful practice of male chick culling by transforming male embryos into egg-laying females using sound vibration and other influences — a non-invasive and non-chemical solution with huge potential for poultry farmers.

Read full article here


Collaborative robots could prevent future labor shortages

Collaborative robotic technology could help future-proof poultry processing against COVID-19 by minimizing the number of repetitive tasks required to be performed manually by workers.

Three robotics and technology experts shared insights on how collaborative automation can build resilience and reduce risk during Manufacturing: The Next Generation — Through Collaborative Automation. The discussion, hosted by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) on November 19, 2020, featured:

Read full article here



Dramatic Recovery in 2020 Net Farm Income Could Hint at New Record

As the 2020 harvest comes to a close, it’s a year marked with unknowns.

“This has been a phenomenal year with all sorts of market developments every month, we think we’ve got things figured out, and then the next month, something new happens,” says Pat Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri.

After declining farm financial outlooks this spring, farmer sentiments are now skyrocketing.

“Since bottoming out in April at a rating of 96, the Ag Economy Barometer has been rising pretty consistently, and this month, it set a new record high at a reading of 183,” says Jim Mintert of Purdue University.

Mintert was speaking about the October Ag Economy Barometer released earlier this month. It revealed farmer sentiments are even better than levels economists saw pre-pandemic. A major factor of the rising sentiments are the climbing commodity prices.

“In our area, what we’ve seen is cash corn prices increase from mid-August to today of about 23.9%,” says Alan Hoskins, president and national sales director, American Farm Mortgage and Financial Services based on Louisville, Ken.

As soybean prices hit $12 Sunday night, the fuel firing up the commodity markets continues to drive prices higher.

“We’re testing some levels we haven’t seen in a number of years,” says John Newton, chief economist, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “A lot of that is on the expectation that we’re going to export a record amount of soybeans and quite a lot of corn.”

Read full article here


Pandemic worsening food insecurity

Along with causing higher rates of unemployment and poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic has also pushed more people into a struggle to buy the basics, including food.

Grocery store food prices have gone up only about 5% since January 2019, but with so many people out of work, food banks have seen a surge in demand, said Zoë Plakias, an assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

While facing an increasing demand, food banks have also received fewer food donations from grocery stores that give their excess products. When stores can’t keep their shelves stocked, less may be available for donation, Plakias said.

With many incomes reduced during the pandemic, more people are taking advantage of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, and new food aid programs have been started.

Read full article here


Finding common ground

There has been a lot of recent talk about the need to heal the nation. The close numbers of the election, the split between Democratic and Republican voters and the divisive tenor of today’s conversations have demonstrated that the path to unity may be a challenging and broken one.

As someone who grew up in cities and has spent almost 30 years working with farmers, there is another divide. It’s a divide that already existed but perhaps cuts a little deeper in the context of this election — the divide between our urban neighborhoods and our rural communities.

A lot of thought has been given to what this means. More importantly, many have tried to anticipate where we go from here. While it may be naïve, there are more similarities than differences among the two, and the urban-rural relationship is symbiotic. There are some generalizations that can be made, although every community, every city, every small town and every family Is different.

Large cities tended to vote Democratic. It happened in Philadelphia and Atlanta. It happened in Detroit and Columbus. People in cities were seeking a change and wanted a new platform from which to be heard. There was frustration with the lack of empathy and understanding coming from the current White House. There was a belief that only widespread upset in leadership could solve the problems. City folk are proud people; people who have grown up recognizing the government has a role in shaping social justice policies and in helping those in need.

Read full article here


Global Animal Protein Outlook 2021: Emerging From a World of Uncertainty

Global summary:

In 2021, we anticipate production growth in most regions, with the biggest change taking place in Asia, where the impacts of African swine fever (ASF) are fading. Pork is expected to lead that growth – with a gradual recovery process, as ASF is still active. Poultry and aquaculture are also forecast to grow, followed by beef. Wild-catch seafood, however, is expected to decline.

Global animal protein trade continues to create areas of opportunity and risk, with China being the biggest of many areas of uncertainty in global trade.

Animal protein has been disrupted by Covid-19 in 2020, largely due to restrictions in processing plants, to global trade, and distribution through foodservice channels. In 2021, the focus will be on recovery, with foodservice recovery, labor availability and costs and supply chain transformations being the major issues.

Many other issues affecting global animal protein mean that uncertainty will remain into 2021. These issues include managing higher feed prices and governments’ increasing engagement on animal protein.

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.