Market Updates for December 14, 2018

Section Type

Dairy | Cheese

The CME Block and Barrel Markets continue to be bearish in the current environment.  Speculators point out an abundance of stock of cheese being stored even with a strong demand.  The current dairy herd has been strong in numbers, we are currently watching the cull numbers to see if this strength will have some weakening.

Last week:

Block - Down

Barrel - Up

This Week:

Block - Down

Barrel - Down

Dairy | Eggs

Retail demand fair to good. Supplies adequate to available. Market mixed & adjusting.

Last week:

Large - Down

Medium - Down

Small - No Change

This Week:

Large - Up

Medium - No Change

Small - No Change

Dairy | Butter

Butter inventories are above historical levels for this time of year but production continues. While cow slaughter rates are on the rise it will take months of higher rates to reduce already near historic levels. Softer exports is keeping pricing in a flat position.  

Last week:

Butter - Up

This Week:

Butter - Down

Meat | Beef

Packers are buying fewer cattle for the two holiday-shortened weeks ahead. Cattle prices are mostly steady. Beef production will drop around 20% during the holiday period.

Ground Beef:

Holiday shopping is boosting QSR traffic creating additional pull for ground beef. Prices should continue to firm.


Ribeye prices have topped out and will likely trade sharply lower once fill-in buying wraps up this week.


Prices have stalled out, but smaller supply could lift prices higher later in December.


Retailers are actively booking rounds for post-holiday features. Prices should start strengthening soon.


Strip prices may have bottomed for now and could work a little higher around the holiday production slowdowns.


Tender prices appear to have peaked with just a few more days of fill-in buying before prices adjust lower.

Thin Meats:

Prices for most thin meats are weaker as we enter a slow demand time of the year. Prices could recover as production shrinks late this month.

Meat | Pork

Pork production is running at record levels with new processing capacity on stream and 3% more hogs available. Prices remain low.


Butt prices are back to where they were this time last year. Extra production is moving into freezer programs or exports,


Ham prices have jumped as processors finish up Christmas orders. Prices are still incredibly cheap and could move higher if Mexican tariffs are lifted.


Belly prices are edging higher as good food service and retail demand adds to consumption.


Rib prices are below where they were last year. Demand for freezer programs is good.


​Loin prices bounced off of 5-year low as buyers stepped in to take advantage of fire sale cost levels. Prices could continue higher as the holidays temporarily shrink supply.

Poultry | Chicken

Chicken output has dropped back to 2017 levels as reduced chick placements earlier this fall make their way to processing plants. Cut-up and whole chickens are balanced; prices are steady.

Breast and Tenders:

Most breast meat items are steady with the usual level of discounting. Food service demand for tenders used in boneless wings is good and prices are steady.


Wing prices are steadier this week although there is still ample availability.

Dark Meat:

Export demand for leg quarters has improved at lower prices. Thighs and leg meat are well-cleared as holiday restaurant spending picks up.

Poultry | Turkey

Whole turkey movement has been good for hens; less than expected for toms. Processors are discounting larger toms. 

Seafood | Finfish

Cod, Alaskan 1x:

Supply remains tight and costs are firm as we head into the end of the year.  The Alaskan cod quota has been reduced by 18,000 tons and with reductions in quota on other white fish  species as well the end result will be increased costs on cod overall.  

Cod, Atlantic 1x:

The 1x frozen Atl. cod loins are firm and could increase further.  Current adverse weather and  reduced quota have limited the availability of product.    The smaller 4 oz size has been the most effected as the current harvest has yielded larger fish and loins.  Expect this trend to continue at least  through Lent. 

Cod, Atlantic 2x:

2019 Total Allowable Catch is announced at 6.5% lower than 2018.  Prices will remain firm. 

Cod, Pacific 2x:

Due to lower catch announced from Atlantic cod. Pacific cod raw material price remains high.

Pollock, Atlantic 1x:

Costs on 1x fz Pollock are currently stable with adequate supply as we prep for Lent.   

Pollock, Pacific 2x:

Firming of pricing as expectation of drop in pollock biomass. Starting to see substitution demand from cod and haddock users.


15% decrease of Total Allowable Catch announced for haddock.  Price is still cheaper than cod.  Expectation of cod substitution to continue. 

Domestic Lake Fish:

To date there is 2.4 Million pounds of walleye quota left in Lake Erie and the expectation is that all will be caught before the fall fishery wraps up.  For perch the estimate is 1.4 million pounds still in the lake and it is doubtful all will be caught.  As a result many expect the perch quota to be reduced overall come Spring 2019.  Costs will firm slightly as we approach the end of the season and supply will be adequate into May.  For whitefish the fall season has closed and the catch has yielded larger fish for the bulk of the inventory, hence larger fillets. Expect costs to firm slightly and level off for the winter until fishing resumes in June of next year.  



Euro Lake Fish & Zander:

Supply is good and costs have been stable.  We expect this to maintain itself into the Spring and through Lent.   This is a more cost effective substitute for the higher priced domestic lake fish items where applicable.

Mahi Mahi:

Mahi Mahi costs have continued to soften as the season has resumed out of Peru.  Reports indicate there is left over product from the 2018 season both domestically and over seas.  To date the harvest has yielded predominately small fish  (65-70 % in this size) of the 4 oz portion size. Currently supply is adequate on all sizes.    

Frozen Tuna, Swordfish :

As we move into the end of the year there is minimal harvest of tuna out of most regions.  In January Viet Nam catches typically improve and fish becomes more readily available for spring arrivals.   For now costs are stable and supply is adequate for a relatively active demand.  Costs have firmed on Swordfish from Indonesia, with  high demand from the European market and stricter regulations overseas. Demand remains strong from both retail and food service customers  



Reports of more consistent swai supply from producing countries.


Tariff war will increase cost by 10% and potentially an additional 15% January 1, 2019.

Seafood | Shrimp

Imported Black Tiger:

Black Tiger shrimp prices are stable and supply is good on small and middle sizes. There are shortages of large sizes due to limited production (2-4 through 13-15) and heavy demand.

Imported White:

White shrimp supply is somewhat sporadic with shipments being late due to heavy demand overseas. Market values are good and offer great opportunities to menu shrimp this summer. Expect supply to be better as we roll into the late summer months as production catches up.

Latin White:

Latin White shrimp are firm with replacement prices firming. Supply is good for the time being.

Domestic White & Brown:

Domestic Brown shrimp are steady in price as we roll into the new season for Texas. Larger sizes of white and brown headless shrimp should begin to land over the next few months.

Domestic PUD:

Domestic PUD production has slowed on smaller shrimp. While boats begin to target larger whites and browns where available, we should see better production in larger and middle size peeled shrimp.

Domestic Rock & Pink:

Rock & Pink shrimp are both in good supply.

Seafood | Lobster

North Atlantic:

Lobster tail costs have firmed as the landings from Maine were not stellar this season and demand has been strong.  Expect this trend to continue.  The fall Nova Scotia season  is on the cusp of beginning but there is no way to determine catches at this time as it can be weather dependent.  Note this fishery typically yields larger lobster and tails, with minimal catches of the smaller 3/4 and 4/5 oz sizes.    Meat has been softening over time and has started to level off.  Supply is currently adequate on all sizes of tails and offerings of meat.    

Warm Water:

Supply has been short on warm water tails with inventory just starting to ramp up slightly after a late start to the season.  Poor catches, increased demand out of Asia  and retailers taking a stronger position on the market have resulted in a firm undertone.     This trend continues as we start to enter the holiday season.     

Seafood | Crab

Snow Crab:

The global shortage of snow crab will continue through the fall.    Alaska did announce their recent findings on their biomass survey of the Bering sea and the results are favorable for more quota for this region come this winter.   The survey showed a 60 percent boost in market sized males and nearly the same for females.  However ..many are predicting  a large reduction in the snow crab quota out of Newfoundland come spring.  This will out weigh any increase out of Alaska and in the end snow crab is still expected to be short.  To date  prices have leveled off on Canadian crab on the larger 8 and 10 up products with limited offerings.  However the 5/8 size has continued to soften slightly as processors and brokers look at moving off the balance of their inventory.   


Red Swimming Crab:

A new 10% tariff on all seafood items should go into effect in August.  The market is still uncertain however, between high market prices, and limited supply, cost might go up.  This coupled with the void in the market on red swimming crab only strengthens this possibility.  We are still expected to start receiving shipments on red crab in October.  The main crab harvest is October – December. 

Blue Swimming Crab:

Prices are still high with great inventory.  There has been a slight decrease in pricing from Indonesia while Philippines and India move up to be more in line with Indo.  For the next 60-90 days prices will stay level to a possible dip however, Q4 is expected to pick back up.  With the red swimming still high with limited supply, this too drives the price up.  Overall prices will come down a bit.

Seafood | Scallops

The scallop market as of late has taken some significant increases.  Strong demand has impacted cost and these are expected to remain elevated at least until after the first of the year especially on the larger sizes (U-10, U-12 and 10-20 ct sizes).  With 75 % of the quota caught they are hoping the weather will cooperate and  the balance will be landed.   For now expect firming prices and adequate supply.   

Chinese Flounder and Ocean Perch:

10% tariff duty has been applied.  An additional 15% may be applied January 1, 2019.