Market Updates for May 15, 2020

Section Type

Dairy | Cheese



Dairy | Eggs

For the time being eggs are remaining steady as retail and food service try to figure out the next few weeks. Data shows that dine in restrictions have been lifted for 192,000 restaurants, or close to 40%, although social distancing still restricts capacity limits. Both supply and demand are light but steady.

Large - Decrease

Medium - Flat

Small - Flat

Dairy | Butter

Heavy trading on Wed has seen 12 loads of butter trade and moved the daily price up to $1.51/#, which puts the weekly average on pace to come in at $1.40. Cold storage continues to be an issue, but producers are still looking at the economics of production at these prices and continue to produce as much as they can while still keeping employees safe.

Butter - Increase 

Dairy | Cheese

Both block and barrel have continued rising in prices, with both settling in the $1.25 - $1.28 range last week, but this week already past the $1.50 mark. Milk is plentiful and producers are responding to the uptick in demand both at the retail and food service level.

Block - Increase

Barrel - Increase

Grocery & Bakery | Soybean Oil

Spring planting has been ahead of normal pace, although the cold weather and rains this week did slow it down some. A sale of soybeans to China for 136,000 mt was executed earlier in the week, helping give support to the bean futures. Oil ending stocks were increased due to a reduction in projected biodiesel demand of 200 milion pounds. Unless export demand can pick up this gap, this will weigh on the oil pricing later down the road. Expectations are for the market to remain flat the next few weeks.

Grocery & Bakery | Flour

Flour prices have been steady, as bookings have been light. Spring wheat futures have increased due to a lag in planting, however the weather appears to be cooperative in the coming weeks as the middle of the country warms up.

Grocery & Bakery | Sugar

Ending stocks-to-use ratios have been increased for 2020 to 10.4% and for 2021 to 12%. Both levels are still below the desired 13.5%. This lends support for pricing heading into the next harvest. Processors have begun taking bookings for 2021 from some manufacturers although most are hesitant at this point to determine what their needs will be giving we are still in the thick of dealing with Covid-19.

Meat | Pork

The hog harvest continues to increase, Wednesday's harvest was the largest in nearly a month. The industry is expecting increases through May. 

Production back ups have added weight to the hogs ready for harvest, as a result there will be fewer light spare ribs. Operators may have to consider medium spares as an alternative. This could last 2-3 months. 

Prices for most cuts are firm to steady as we head into the pre holiday week and grilling season. 

Meat | Beef

Starting Monday of next week we will have all major beef packing plants back up and running. Production is still going to be slower than normal due to labor issues and slower belt speeds to accommodate safety protocols. Recovery of plant capacity looks promising. Slaughter has increased daily throughout the week which could put us just under 500K head by end of week. All major packers are optimistic on productions increasing over the next few weeks followed by the cutout coming off. Tyson has made an announcement they will be dropping prices up to 30% on orders shipping this week for items such as grinds and end cuts. There are no plans as of yet for any future changes to pricing after this week. We should start to see some pricing pressure as we move into late May on all end cuts, chucks, and briskets. Middle cuts such as ribs and loins will most likely stay high as restaurants start to open up across the county and retail competes to keep promotions going. Short term expect to see flat pricing across the board.

Poultry | Chicken

The market volatility is continuing again this week.  The markets have now surpassed the pre virus levels.  It is looking like we are going to continue to see the costs rise as there just is not the supply there to meet the demand.  The processing plants are still plagued by labor challenges across most companies.  The fluctuation in attendance makes it a struggle for them to plan on any certain level of output.  There are plants that are trying to operate with as low as a 25% attendance rate in different areas of the country.  The processors are continuing to try to hire additional labor, but it has just not been successful at this time.  There really is not a solid answer on when they can expect this labor issue to be resolved.  This will continue to keep the supply side tight.  The plants are also going to be getting into a reduced supply due to the reduced placement now coming into play.  The trading is still continuing to be above the market, but the premiums being paid are starting to shrink a little due to the already high market prices.  Frozen inventories are almost nonexistent at this time on breast meat, wings and thigh meat.  Any product that requires additional labor to produce just is not out there.  Jumbo and medium breast meat have both hit a 52 week highs.  We are also now seeing the small wings hit a 52 weed high and exceed the cost of the medium and jumbo wing.  For many of the Foodservice operators that are only open for take out they have discovered that the wings travel well for their customers taking advantage of the carry out options.  Allocations are taking place on the key items and it is expected to continue until the supply is able to catch up with the demand.    


Breast and Tenders:

The Jumbo Breast Meat market is now at $1.58 and the select market has increased to $2.38.  We are seeing increase now in the $.02 - .03 per day.  If you are able to find frozen inventory that is still selling at a premium.  Line run Breast Tenders have taken on strength and they are now trading at $1.18/lb. and expected to continue to climb with the reduced supply.


The wing market remains tight and all sizes of wings are continue to climb.  Jumbo whole wings are trading at $1.56/lb with medium at $1.78/lb and small at the 52 week high of $1.89/lb.  With Foodservice demand returning in some parts of the country it is putting additional demand on an already strained market.    

Seafood | Finfish

Cod, Alaskan 1x:

The supply of the big stocks of wild whitefish are set to remain stable for 2020, lifting by less than 1% according to the forecast from the Ground fish Forum in October 2019.  For Pacific cod the forum forecast has the total supply at 365,000 t in 2020 down from 387,000t.    Note the Gulf of Alaska is completely closed in  Federal waters for this season but the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands are still active fisheries . Overall this has driven a decline in Canadian and US landings from 185,000t to 158,000t as well.  

Cod, Atlantic 1x:

The 1x frozen Atl. cod loins from Canada are now available with plenty of supply.  Costs remain elevated over last year but are still a good value compared to other Countries of Origin for both quality and cost .  In June  ICES (Exploration of the Sea) advised the cod quota in the Barents Sea for 2020 to be set at a level 2% higher than it's advised level for 2019 of 674,678 t.  At 689,672 t, in 2020 advise comes in at 5% lower than the total allowable catch for 2019 set by the Norwegians and Russians of 725,000 t. In general the total supply of A cod is forecast to rise slightly from 1.131 m tons in 2019 to 1.132 m t . For Now Limson has supply  of Russian fillets.  

Cod, Atlantic 2x:

Pricing has begun to soften as demand has dropped off on orders overseas. As orders begin to pick up you will see a rise in cost come fall. Inventory levels remain healthy.

Cod, Pacific 2x:

Pricing has begun to soften as demand has dropped off on orders overseas. As orders begin to pick up you will see a rise in cost come fall. Inventory levels remain healthy.

Pollock, Atlantic 1x:

The overall Pollock supply for 2020 is expected to remain relatively stable .   The forecast at the ground fish forum for the US supply of Alaskan pollock for 2020 is 1.528 million metric tons, down from 1.552 m t in 2019. Note fillet prices for larger sizes are expected to increase as supply on these sizes is more limited.  Per the Seafood Source publication... The largest fishery by volume in the U.S., the Alaska pollock fishery, is also facing its own set of disruptions, though it has fared better than some as the industry’s "A" season managed to avoid overwhelming disruptions.  They have been able to harvest their catch and prices have held up well. 

Pollock, Pacific 2x:

Inventory will remain strong through Summer and into fall. Will see pricing soften through the summer as orders overseas have dried up causing plants to slow and raw material prices to fall. Wild Pollock will increase in demand as a high-protein variant. The anticipated increase in demand has many suppliers looking to become vertically integrated to reduce costs, and gain more control over the supply chain.


The tariff for haddock was rescinded in Dec as petitioned by several members of the National Fisheries Institute. Last fall there was a lack of product being imported in case the tariff was to be increased resulting in a shortage on raw material in Asia. Raw material is now available but  is now faced with a severe lack of demand.   For haddock out of Norway and Russia the TAC ( Total Allowable Catch) for 2020 is up 25% from 2019.

Domestic Lake Fish:

As the opening of the walleye season resumed May 1st this fishery is still uncertain as to how to begin.  Currently the processors have placed restrictions on the quota for the boats as they cannot afford to freeze fish in hope there is demand, and this is a risk they are unwilling to take.  For now all that is being processed is fresh and this is done minimally based on demand as the plants are currently operating at 25% due to the restrictions of the virus.  At this rate, even though there was a 20 % increase in the overall quota for the season there is doubt that will be caught by the fall. The perch season begins on the 15th of May and as last year the processors are selling perch if you take walleye as well.   With an estimated 18% reduction in perch quota we expect the perch prices to start out high.  The issue is, do you assume high cost perch to cover you for the season and take the risk of this market collapsing if there is no demand?  In addition the fishery was unable to fish the spring season prior to spawning and that will also cause an added 25% loss of of this fishery as well.    

Euro Lake Fish & Zander:

The European supply on zander ,pike perch and euro perch has been more than adequate to date with no interruptions in supply .  Limson is covered on all sizes at this time.   Costs are expected to remain stable for now as demand has been non existent for Food Service sales.  For late summer, fall orders we do expect a softening on cost purely due to the current exchange.  Note this is a lower cost option to the domestic  product  and eats comparatively.  

Mahi Mahi:

Mahi Mahi has been secured from the 2019 fall season and Limson has supply on all sizes.   Costs remain stable for limited demand in Food Service.  The S American season does not resume until October and to date are unsure of any supply out of Asia due to the virus,  as typically their season resumes in the spring and is weather dependant.    Note we have 4,6 and 8 oz portions that are vacuum packed and can be a great option for retail applications if sold as eaches.  We also have 1-4 oz pieces that are currently sold as a cheap option for taco, applications and such.  

Frozen Tuna, Swordfish :

Vietnam -  The Country is  locked down because of COVID-19,  and may open later in May. Currently some raw material is available, but prices are down because demand has plummeted.Indonesia - The Country is  locked down tighter than even Vietnam because of COVID-19. Ramadan is April – May 23. Normally Indonesia only closes for 15 days, but with prices so low and employees so skittish to go back to work, it looks like they’ll be closed all of Ramadan.SWORDFISH Sword is a bycatch of Tuna in Asia, so reflects the same story as Tuna.  For now Limson has plenty of supply available in individually vacuum packed portions.  This is a great optioon for retial movement where they can be sold as eaches.  


In Vietnam the government has started to ease social distancing in a few cities. The suppliers team is back to work full time and has returned to offices but with caution. Small businesses are allowed to reopen and if the situation maintains as it is, Vietnam might get back to normal mid May.  Raw material (RM) pricing is believed to be at the bottom in the past few weeks and farmers have been losing money at this current price. Some reduced farming quantity or switch to farm a different species, which will lead to RM shortage later this year.  On top of that, farmers were reluctant to start new crops due to high level of uncertainty in global demand since the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, shortage will most likely occur in Q3 and Q4 this year and might even last until next year if farmers' mentality does not change.  Right now, farmers refuse to drop RM pricing further as they are waiting for China's recovery from COVID-19. In fact, demand from China showed minor sign of recovery this month. We forecast its demand will be back to its normal level around June. Once it happens, RM price most likely will face upward pressure.


Tilapia, once a big mover for the foodservice sector has seen diminished sales over the last year where imports have decreased.   This commodity was included in the tariff war but many think Tilapia in general has gotten some bad press over the last few years based on the public perception.  Some experts at the Global Seafood Conference cite a potential turnaround not only how the fish is perceived but due to the recent signing of "Phase One" of the treaty to resolve the trade war, we may see demand for tilapia turnaround.  As such, global production of tilapia  is estimated to increase from 6.5 million MT in 2019 to 6.8 million MT this year.  The increase in supply should continue to keep prices flat and put this item back on the menu of many foodservice establishments.

Seafood | Shrimp

Pond stocking in India / Indonesia has happen but at a reduction (40-50%) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers are harvesting early and not seeding again until they see what happens on the world market with demand. In the short term you may see some good pricing in the market as people are trying to move off old or excess inventory. This may have a larger impact come late summer into fall if farmers do not seed as this will limit the inventory availability which would cause increased pricing. 

Imported Black Tiger:

Indonesia has extended its lock down until end of May, and although the factories have an exemption from this they face a shortage on raw and material and work force. This has caused orders delays, along with increase lead times as containers are not as readily available. Currently Tigers have a good supply on larger shrimp (will soften pricing) while the smaller sizes are tighter causing pricing to firm. 

Imported White:

Will will likely see a rising market through summer and into fall as shortages will develop as demand begins to pick back up for overseas orders. Normal harvesting has been disrupted as farmers panic harvested in March and April. Many farmers are waiting to reseed until the market stabilizes which will cause a delay on when new product will be available.   

Latin White:

Prices have firmed due to limited supply. 

Domestic White & Brown:

The spring season starts mid April to early May but may be delayed due to the COVID-19 impact. Boats are being delayed as overall demand is down and cold storage is filling up. You may see some good deals on pricing prior to the market opening up as people will be looking to move inventory out of cold storage. 

Domestic PUD:

Smaller PUDs are tight in the market and driving up prices until we see what the new season (Starting Mid April to Early May) will bring

Domestic Rock & Pink:

Rock shrimp production in both the US and Mexico was a bust this past year. Virtually no inventory and very high prices. Domestic rock season starts again July/Aug.

Seafood | Lobster

North Atlantic:

The lobster market has been heavily impacted by COVID-19.  Most items  (tails and meat) are heavy in Food Service so demand has dropped off significantly.  As a result prices have been reduced  as of late but with minimal demand it has had zero affect.  To date the season has been delayed but is expected to resume later this spring.   The bigger issue might be the labor available to start production in the plants.  For now we are in a wait and see pattern for this market.  

Warm Water:

The WW tail market as for the N Atl market has decreased in demand for the Food Service sector.  To date we have supply as the new season will not resume until June, with first arrivals expected in July...if the Caribbean countries can resume production as well by that time frame. Costs have softened at this time with plenty of supply

Seafood | Crab

Snow Crab:

In Canada, the country's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has released its new total allowable catch limits for the snow crab fishing areas off the coast of the Newfoundland and Labrador province, granting an overall 10% increase to 29,551t in 2020, compared to the 26,894t permitted in 2019. However, due to coronavirus-related concerns, the new start date for that season is now May 11. Note the provincial government has backed the processors proposed min price of $2.90 CAD.  This can be renegotiated however two weeks after the season resumes to a higher level proposed by the fishermen.   Zone 12 in the Gulf, which is also the largest fishery in this region was pushed  back until April 24.  In addition, the quota for this area has been decreased from last year's TAC (Total Allowable Catch) of 32,480 tons to 27,203.7 tons or about 16%.  As pointed out recently, further delays in this area may put the entire harvest at risk if the migrating North Atlantic right whale starts to appear.   Unfortunately this did happen this week.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)– The Gulf and Quebec Regions are providing notice of grid closures due to the confirmed presence of North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW)  Upcoming closures in the Gulf of St Lawrence effective May 8th, 2020 at 5:00pm (ADT) Full grids GU42, GU43, GU44, GV42, GV43, GV44, GW42, GW43, GW44 DFO is providing a 96 hour delay for these grid closures due to the weather forecast. All gear affected by this notice must be removed from the closed area before the time of closure. As first offers out of the gulf were just trickling in over the last 2 weeks , prices had continued to decline and were expected to continue even further once Newfoundland resumed.  With the most recent announcement they have taken a quick uptick and depending on the whale migration, could increase more.  However it has also been noted that the current areas effected are not that big of zones for fishing but this will need to be a wait and see scenario.  Regardless, initial costs for the 2020 season  are at a significant reduction compared to 2019 on all sizes.  Offers to date have been reduced but the volume was not there yet to sell programs as the gulf only resumed harvest two weeks ago.  As a good portion of crab is typically sold to FS many processors are scared to hold inventory as the expectation for FS to recover and restaurants to open (at limited capacity) is a guess at this time.  That and the closure of buffets and casino business has caused a sever lack of demand.  IF the right whale issue does not balloon and is short lived not affecting other regions,  there is still hope that with the onset of the Newfi season there could be some further reduction of cost...This is a huge IF as if this issue does get worse there could be a shut down of most of the gulf fishery.  Conversely on the other end...with the delayed start of the seasons there is a potential of soft shell issues to appear by late July and than cause the fishery to wrap up early as well.   In summary, no one can fully predict the outcome if this season at this time, we can only speculate and make decisions based on current needs of the customers.    


King Crab:

Currently the seafood sector reports that king crab is selling well in retail with very minimal sales in Food Service as expected.  Right now the market is stable and larger size king crab remains somewhat limited and tight.  Costs have leveled off on current inventory.  Some processors  indicate costs will firm by the summer.  

Red Swimming Crab:
Blue Swimming Crab:

Seafood | Scallops

Scallop costs have up ticked some for April as inventory has tightened prior to the new season arrivals.   Costs typically increase month over month until the season resumes come spring.  However , due to  COVID 19 and the fact that the Food Service sector has been greatly challenged many expect  there could be a significant downturn as the boats get fully underway.  The quota has changed drastically with reduction of closed areas and the reduction of NEast closed area fishing as well.  In general:  17-20% reduction in total catch = forecast is about 10 million # less than 2019.  Nantucket “deep” south = forecast is 6.2 million lbs which is currently shucking meat counts of 40/50s and smaller – so this may see a full effort from the  boats depending on price or many may decide not to fish due to the increased work, days at sea as this takes a lot more effort for 1lb of scallops, puts added pressure on the guys on the boats, and takes double the time.  Boats will fish but its another 6 million lbs that WILL NOT BE  10/20s and bigger reducing total availability of these larger sizes.  Less trips, less money for 40/50s , more southern/mid-Atlantic scallops ( that have reduced quality in summer, and possible parasites in south areas) will potentially see many boats spread their fishing out and lower the landings in summer that can drive the  auction lower.  In general movement has been minimal 

Chinese Flounder and Ocean Perch:

With China getting back up and running we are now seeing production plants are running at around 60%. The problem that China is now facing is the lack of Demand due to the COVID-19 impact around the world. We were able to pull our orders ahead for Lent which provided a healthy inventory to get us into the Spring / Early Summer. Pricing could soften as we see the markets begin to open and new product arrives in the market. 

Seafood | Salmon

Norwegian Salmon:

A Mild winter in Norway has given good growth and should provide steady volume throughout the year with estimated peak harvesting volume in Sep/Oct/Nov.  The volume to Asia has been increasing again after slow growth during Covid-19, and although the volume to Europe is still behind it is expected to increase as restrictions decrease (restaurants have started opening). The volume to US is still behind, but this is largely because there is  limited air cargo space for fresh Head-On-Gutted. Estimate increase in cargo capacity in 2H.  The Price to farmers has been very stable at around NOK 50/Kg (or slightly below) for the 3-6 Kg sizes, and the larger sizes have actually been cheaper (unusual, as they are preferred by fresh customers in Asia). Prices are well below last years prices at the same time. With increased volume in late summer/early fall we should see further downward pressure on prices to farmer, but the big question will be exchange rate. The USD is currently strong against the  NOK, but it is very likely we will see the NOK strengthening against USD when challenges with Covid-19 ease come fall.  So although lower raw material cost is expected in the fall, this can be somewhat offset by a stronger NOK, but it will all depend on how much change we see from exchange rate. So prices in 2020 will be at a lower cost then 2019 and there are clearly good buying opportunities, but the forecast for 2021 does predict increased prices from 2020 levels as demand will again match or out-pace supply. Another question here in the US is also what will happen with other protein supply (meat/poultry) as we are seeing shortages already with demand far outstripping supply. How long will this last? Will customer be looking for other sources of protein (seafood) as a result of this? What will this do to demand on seafood?   Only time will tell.  As a finaml note for Norwegian salmon all portions 4,6 and 8 and E trim fillets are vacuum packed and can be sold as eaches for retail customers.  

Chilean Salmon:

Travel restrictions imposed by the Chilean government have impeded the country's capacity to export salmon to the United States for fresh.  Internally Chile also announced the ban of transport trucks for farmed salmon  on the Island of Chiloe as there was concern over the spread of the virus via truckers.  But even as supply tightens, a massive drop in foodservice demand as the COVID-19 pandemic widens,  has prompted mass closings of bars and restaurants and caused US salmon prices to fall, not rise.  While US foodservice demand for salmon has dropped, the picture is not all gloomy, as the retail sector has been booming and has taken up some of the slack.