Market Updates for March 19, 2021
Dairy | Eggs
Large -No change
Medium -No change
Small - No change
Retail demand mixed. Supplies of extra large and large well balanced and held confidently. Market steady to full steady.
Dairy | Butter
Cream inventories are continuing to tighten as ice cream production starts to compete for raw material and hits it's production stride. Retail sales show signs of decline, but overall are still healthy. With restaurants reopening food service distributors are still coming back to the buying table, but orders are still below expectations.
Dairy | Cheese
The CME Block market responded to the governments release of another billion dollars in the USDA Box program. Speculators feel this will have an effect on the markets for the short term but will not be sustainable for the long term.
Grocery & Bakery | Flour
Spreads between wheat and corn are suggesting an increase in demand for feed wheat is taking place, due to the high costs of corn. Export data backs this up with shipments from both the EU and US down sharply. The USDA made no changes to it balance sheet in the March WASDE report, so a lack of any fundamental changes within the complex has led to flat trading. Stocks-to-use ratios for the current crop are estimated to be 41%, which is still a very healthy position. We are likely to continue seeing domestic wheat funnel into feed, potentially bringing the carryout lower. Planting intentions released later this month will also give us insights to how many acres wheat may lose to corn or soybeans. Until the Prospective Plantings report is released we anticipate wheat and flour prices to trade sideways.
Grocery & Bakery | Sugar
The latest USDA WASDE reflected another increase in total sugar supplies for a third consecutive month. This came a surprise, although when you dig into the demand numbers used by the USDA it becomes evident that purchases over the last quarter were lacking because many buyers had bought heavy last fall and carried supply. With Covid-19 restrictions easing across the country as more people become vaccinated, sugar demand is expected to pop. Pricing is remaining flat for now, as sellers anticipate the demand surge is coming soon and aren't willing to release additional volume at a discount.
Grocery & Bakery | Soybean Oil
Domestic soy complex prices remain volatile as the US carryout situation remains mostly unaddressed. Export demand has slowed significantly as Chinese buyers are assessing both the Brazilian supply timeline and monitoring the growing noise regarding the re-emergence of African Swine Fever (ASF) within their hog industry. While a slow down in meal demand for animals does have the ability to weigh soy prices down, it also comes with a bullish effect on oil prices in the short term as less oil is being generated. Broader picture, oil stocks are projected to be tight through the summer. Prices will undoubtedly react to the planting intentions later in the month and we will face swings once it becomes a "weather market". The downside in the market seems to be limited based on today's information.
Meat | Pork
Harvest levels are forecast to be on par with last week. Down 3% from last year.
Anticipation is lifting prices quickly, increased vaccinations, stimulus money, venue openings have created enthusiasm we have not previously experienced. New export demand and a tight labor market are aiding the run up.
Butts continue this impressive run up 7-10 cents this week and expected to continue increase in the next 2 months as food service demand increases, spare ribs jumped this week up $.10/lb and loin prices are up $.05 this week. .
Belly prices increased this week, in a normal market buyers would hold back orders and decrease the demand lowering prices. At this point buyers do not have this luxury.
Meat | Beef
Weather-related issues both with producers and consumers have the boxed beef market in an interesting position. Harvest was down 100K last week from the average weekly runs all due to weather-related issues. The excess market-ready cattle will need to be pushed to production over the next few weeks increasing supply during a time when we historically experience reduced demand before the spring grilling season. We have yet to see the market react due to short boxed beef, but it will come soon and probably be a good portion of March as prices are too high for this time of year and increased supply will push prices lower. Middle meats have performed well on retail ads, however, high prices will put pressure on ad placements at retail and foodservice will follow. Look for opportunities on middle meats over the next few weeks. Grinds took a big dive after Super Bowl but are now up again due to short supply caused by last week’s weather events. Expect to see some softness until later into March. End cuts should come off some over the next few weeks and stay lower through most of the spring. Expect lower levels as we move into March. Thin meats and briskets should see good demand and higher prices as we move into March. There are still many large customers shopping brisket packages for the spring business.
Poultry | Chicken
As we see an increase in the number of people getting vaccinated the processors are hoping to see an improvement in the labor challenges they have struggled with over the last year. The recent government support has certainly not helped out this industry as many choose to remain at home while the government provides financial assistance. The production numbers are back in line right now with last year, but as some of the weather related challenges that hit the breeder flocks come into play we are not expecting to see these numbers climb much in the weeks ahead. The total production was just under 170 million head with 54% coming in the larger weight ranges. This has helped keep the Jumbo Breast Meat prices relatively flat again. There has been interest in Mexico for breast meat that has also had an impact on keeping things tight. The wing market is still in short supply and it is still hard for the processors to meet their fresh wing demand. There are many looking and interested in frozen wings and the orders just continue to go unfilled. This is one of the first weeks in many that we have seen the market remain flat. As Foodservice picks up they are expecting to see this market continue to be in short supply as production numbers are remaining to stay even. Tenders are also in tight supply and interest remains very strong. The dark meat has been highly sought after and some think we may have finally reached the top on leg quarters as exporters are not willing to pay over the quoted levels.
The Jumbo Breast Meat market remained in a pretty balanced position all week and only experienced a $.01/lb increase to $.1.47/lb for the week. The select and medium markets remained flat and stayed at $2.23/lb and $1.68/lb. Line run Breast Tenders also remained at $1.83/lb with no changes this week.
Wings have finally had a week where we did not experience any increases. They have remained at the record high prices for the week without climbing to new record highs. The Jumbo whole wings have remained at $2.62/lb, medium whole wings at $2.60/lb and small wings at $2.69/lb. Even with these prices remaining flat there was not any product readily available.
Seafood | Finfish
Per Undercurrent News: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council announced that it had increased the 2021 TAC for Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska to 17,321 MT, allowing for a small directed fishery this year. For the next two years, scientists have also advised acceptable biological catches for Pacific cod in the gulf of 23,627 t and 38,141 t in 2021 and 2022 respectively. This is worth noting as TAC levels can only be set equal to or below the levels of ABC's recommended by scientists. Note the Groundfish Forum this last fall also stated that the global catches would decline by 7.8% to 365,000t led by a decline in US and Canadian landings from 160,0000 to 119,000 t which based on voume alone have a bigger impact on the fishery. With that said , to date the cod catches have been limited in Alaska and costs have been rising. Increased COVID cases resulted in plant shut downs for 14 days which also affected the start of the pollock season then carried over to the cod fishery as well. Mandatory quarantine has really impacted the supply putting pressure on costs for the 1x frozen market. Expect prices to be elevated until the fall and new season supply. *
Russian cod is also bearing the weight of the reduction of cod out of Alaska. Currently the large 16-32 oz fillets have been short on the market and the next best option will be the 8/16 oz. Expect costs and supply for larger sizes to be an issue for the next few months For cod out of Canada the 6 oz option will be short as the season wrapped up early with limited catches of this size. Costs are stable currently. *
Pricing has risen as raw material has become tight, causing production facilities to have to wait which has caused order delays. This in conjunction with added freight costs has increased costs overall. To further amplify this problem we have continued to see increased port congestion once orders arrive in the US causing an additional 2-6 week delay on getting product received. *
The same issue as presented for the Atlantic 2x cod has been mirrored in the P cod costs as well. The lack of raw material out of Alaska to Asia due to reduced quotas, increase COVID cases , barge fires etc. will continue to impact supply until the B season resumes this summer That and short supply of raw material in Asia currently for processing, delayed containers and increased cost of freight have driven this item up in cost. For now product is short at elevated costs for both 8/16 and 16/32. *
Since the onset of the A season for Pollock in January the market has been in flux. Coming off a deficit of supply in the fall B season many anticipated the A season to be able to aid in product. From the onset most processors were forced to shut down due to COVID for 14 days. Since the length of this season is relatively short the catch has been limited. Many are scrambling to fill orders as Lent and FS sales have caused an increased demand far and above what was anticipated due to closures. Until the B season resumes this summer, product will remain very short with the larger 4/6 oz product being under more duress. Prices will be elevated. *
We have seen delays on pollock being shipped as raw material on the larges sizes has become tight which has caused pricing to rise by 10%-15% since last year. Raw material will remain short through the summer. *
We have seen an increase in pricing and delay on orders as large quantities of haddock that have been detained in bonded warehouses. Now that the Dalian port is stating to recover slowly , the cold storage facilities are also gradually opening up . It's estimated that it will still take some time for the raw material of COD and Haddock to be picked up from storage for further processing on Asia, resulting in large scale varieties (8-10, 10-12, 12-16) being short. This has affected many different packers and their ability to ship product. Costs are firming.*
As we await the quota announcement from the Lake Erie Committee at the end of March the expectation is that the yellow lake perch will have another 20 % decrease. Contrarily the walleye is also expected to increase by that much as well. Perch availability is short and will remain short however we have been able to remain in stock of the Michigan sizes. Ohio sizes are extremely short with almost none being offered . Fishing for White fish will begin in June however we do not foresee issues on supply getting through to the new season. Blue gill out of China is currently the only option to domestic and Limson has supply on these as well to get our customers through Lent. White perch is still very short and we are seeing limited quantities offered however we are good on inventory currently. As for the smelt items - we are back in stock on the dressed. We have some battered however the supply will continue to be short. Due to the small quantity of smelt available it has been difficult for the processors to get a time slot at the plants in order to batter the product causing a delay in getting battered smelt to us.*
The 20-40 g zander is very short on the market and costs have increased. Most of the volumes of Zander come out of Kazakhstan and Russia where the main sizes are 4 oz and up. Therefore the smaller 2-4 oz zander are very hard to find, To help preserve the resource they are also not allowed to catch large volumes of the smaller fish as it can deplete the stock. Costs on this size have risen as we work to find added resources. For the rest of the zander and euro lake perch supply is adequate for a moderate demand. Costs are stable *
The late 2020 / 2021 fall season of mahi got off to a very slow start. While most fishing began in October the landings were minimal and what was processed had gone mainly to the fresh market. Larger fish were harder to come by and complete orders have been harder to fill as landings out of both Peru and Ecuador have been slow with reduced catches and landings. Costs are elevated over 2019/20 and expect these levels to increase just to secure supply as the cost for the raw material has risen sharply. As the season wraps up in S America the next option is product out of Taiwan for 1x fz product. AS the Taiwanese watch the markets out S America we expect prices to be form across the board. *.
Vietnam – Prices have gone up and are currently firming.. Landings should start at full season levels in late March/Early April. Indonesia –Landings have started and, as with Vietnam, landings should get even better in April. SWORDFISH Asia – Being a bycatch of Tuna, Sword is the same story as Asian Tuna currently and in Ecuador – The boats are retooling from the Mahi season. The landings have not yet been determined. *
For 2020 the pangasius export value was quite conservative due to the impact of COVID-19. We expect 2021 to be a better year for the pangasius industry overall. Raw material pricing is expected to be higher in 2021 due to higher farming cost with the continuous feed price increases. Supply volume also dropped in early 2021 and is expected to last in the coming months as many farmers found it challenging to sustain the business with high farming costs and a low selling price. In addition major disruptions in pollock, cod and haddock processing from China has reduced double-frozen volume to the E.U. and the U.S. therefore reducing fish supply overall adding pressure on the cheaper fish option with swai . *
Generally prices have remained stable most of the year so far. However raw material pricing/cost was also stable up until about June. Since then pricing has increased competition for raw material. The reasons for this are due to high demand for many months at retail. Where they prefer 2-5 oz or 3-5 oz traditionally over the larger sizes. Larger sizes tending to be preferred by restaurants. Focus by some customers and plants on producing 4 oz and below due to the tariff exclusion.This means that plants are having to pay an ever-increasing premium to secure enough raw material from the farms to meet orders. Farmers do not make much profit on smaller sizes. So they prefer to wait until the fish grow bigger before harvest. Now packers and customers need the farmers to harvest sooner to get more smaller sizes. Farmers must be incentivized to do that. Packers are competing for the farm supply. At the same time that would of course mean there’s less available of the larger sizes if farmers are having to harvest sooner.
Seafood | Shrimp
India, Indonesia, and Vietnam have all struggled with the availability of workers and raw material on different sizes. Earlier this fall we saw some good pricing in the market as people are trying to move off old or excess inventory. Over the last month we have seen the larger impact as there is limited inventory availability which has caused increased pricing. Current shortages in the market are easy peel, cooked shrimp and smaller sizes on raw PD and PD tail-on as we have seen an uptick in retail and delayed shipments from overseas. Experts expect to see a drop in overall production output out of India by 30-35% for 2020. The freight market is currently short on the availability of empty containers. Out of India you have suppliers / packers that are all moving product from the west to the east as the East Coast has more availability on containers. This have created logistical issues as certain borders between states are closed within India. If we continue to see container delays you will see production facilities start to short down as they will have no where to go with the product. This will will further impact inventory availability around the world.
Production out of Indonesia has been slow and steady without any major shut downs. The packers are backed up with excessive orders(for over 6 months in most cases) and most buyers have experienced extensive shipment delays causing current shrimp shortages in the US. Indonesia will continue to struggle through late 2020 when their season starts in Dec. However, they are expected to continue shipping at a steady pace. Vietnam has been able to help take the pressure off some but is also starting to see raw material shortages on certain sizes.
The situation is no better in the U.S. market for shrimp, as many exporters from India said their shipping schedules have been affected by tepid demand caused by cold weather conditions. The changes in shipping schedules have caused cargoes to take longer to arrive to their destinations, prompting foreign buyers to delay payments. India's seafood processors may not be able to fulfill their production targets due to raw material shortages resulting from a decline in fishing and yields. India exported nearly 1.29 million metric tons (MT) of seafood, with a value of USD 6.4 billion (EUR 5.4 billion), during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. However, MPEDA has not set any business targets in the last two years. Low shrimp prices between 2017 and 2019, and a decline in exports to the E.U. in 2018 and 2019 have hampered the seafood sector's growth. The decline was clear last year as India shipped 595,169 MT of seafood products between April and October, down 24 percent year-on-year. The associated value dropped by 16 percent to USD 3.28 billion (EUR 2.76 billion). Exporters are hoping demand from China will recover after the country's long Lunar New Year holiday. Additionally, a jump in vannamei shrimp prices by around 10 to 15 percent due to a global shortages may encourage farming to expand. Prices in India increased this week for some counts. Andhra Pradesh is already stocking widely, and stocking is also expected to pick up in Gujarat as the problem of acquiring quality PL’s is being resolved. In Ecuador, HOSO prices continue to show some upticks for larger sizes of shrimp, and farmers are encouraged to stock more due to these improvements. Prices for Pacific white shrimp in Vietnam also rise steadily after the Tet holidays are concluded. Meanwhile in Indonesia, prices showed no movement, and availability of raw material is expected to become more stable as the weather conditions improve.*
Prices have firmed due to limited supply with in the market.
Gulf HDLS Brown and White: We are seeing the Texas boats cycling back from their New Year's trip, reporting 3-4bx/night of brown tails, predominantly 16/20-31/35ct. Ok for this time of the year but not great given fuel prices they are escalating rapidly. Boat pricing is firm and relatively steady. As boats come in now most will tie up for spring maintenance. Larger white production for hdls is also winding down. We expect it will be pretty quiet on hdls production for April/May. When large white shrimp production starts in June things can escalate quickly.*
Peeled: There is Finally a decent packout of small white peeled at Gulf Crown on 70/90 and smaller. For right now these packouts will be hit and miss. . As spring weather makes it's way to the gulf we should see more small boats moving around.*
Rock-No production, no boats targeting, no existing inventory. We may see a couple of small pack outs from the incidental catch in the spring, but the real season starts in July. Last year was poor for rock; hopefully this year will be the opposite. We encourage the use of 70/90 PINK P&D 10/5 Key Treasure as a good alternative. Very good eating, cheaper, more consistent supply. Key West Pink HDLS: production just ok, and prices sky-high: (.75-1.50 over gulf browns).*
Seafood | Lobster
Per Seafood News: NOAA announced its proposed modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan on December 30.NOAA said it is looking to “further reduce the impacts of entanglement in fishing gear on right whales in U.S. waters.” The modifications are focused on the Northeast Jonah crab and lobster trap/pot fisheries, which are responsible for roughly 93 percent of the buoy lines fished in areas where right whales appear. According to NOAA, the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team will be asked to recommend risk reduction measures for other Atlantic trap/pot and gillnet fisheries in 2021.
Due to the late start of the season and poor weather, the catch from the Nova Scotia season was limited. Fishing has wrapped up and most processors are limiting production until the spring season in May. Demand for lobsters has increased with restaurant openings and the market is extremely tight and expected to remain firm until spring. There is expected to be a limited supply on all sizes of tails and meat going forward, especially the CK Broken and CKL.
The market for prime size tails continues to exhibit some strength as of late. Market values at the season open fell to multi-year lows; reaching a point that seems to have created demand in the pandemic environment. Since then, the addition of tropical activity in some producing countries, and residual damage, have yielded a bit firmer market. As of today Limson has supply on all sizes.
Seafood | Crab
The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game announced the 2020/2021 crab quotas . Mostly the results confirmed industry expectations, although snow crab increases were lower than hoped.For red king crab, the precarious nature of the stock has led to a cut of 1.15 million lbs, which is 30% below the 3.8 million pounds quota set in 2019.The stock has been on a long term decline, and earlier management strategies would have completely closed the fishery. However, in recent years ADF&G has revised some of the thresholds, so that a weak recruitment leads to lower harvest levels, but not a shut down of the entire fishery.With conservative management, the stock is neither overfished nor subject to overfishing. The allowable biological catch has declined from 6 million lbs in 2019 to 3.54 million lbs in 2020, with the TAC set well below this level at 2.648 million lbs.Russian catches of red king crab are stable, and the loss of 1.15 million pounds in Alaska quota should continue the trend of high king crab demand and pricing.For snow crab, the 2019 Alaska harvest was 34 million lbs., with a biomass projected at 368 million lbs. Snow crab recruitment is very strong, and the projection biomass for 2020 was to grow to 610.2 million lbs, a 66% increase.However, due to the pandemic no crab trawl surveys were conducted this summer, so the TAC was set based on a continuation of trends identified in 2019. For this reason, ADF&G was more conservative increasing the TAC than the projected biomass might call for, with a 32% increase to 45 million lbs. in 2020.There will also be a small Bairdi or tanner crab fishery this year west of longitude 166 of 2.348 million lbs. Again, there was no survey, but there has been considerable revisions to the Bairdi crab models in the last few years, and the current ABC matches that of 2017-18, when the fishery was last opened.The snow crab announcement is generally looked upon as an important market indicator for the coming year.This year, snow crab has been one of the top selling seafood products, so much so that unlike many fisheries which have seen lower values in the pandemic due to the cutback in foodservice demand, snow crab is currently oversold, and back up to record price levels.
The snow crab fishery in CFA 23 (Nova Scotia) has been given the green light to open earlier than normal this year. The official opening is now March 15th. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the other stakeholders are leading an effort to open crab fishing as early as possible this year. This is based on recommendations from all stakeholders aimed at reducing the risk to northern right whales of possible gear entanglements. Since the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2021 has not been approved yet, an interim TAC has been set at 25% of the 2020 TAC in order to facilitate this early opening. These interim quotas will be distributed in their respective percentage share of the CFA 23 fleet licenses. When the final 2021 TAC has been approved the remainder of the quotas will be distributed proportionately. Although the boats can fish earlier than usual, we expect initial volumes to be low and delays are likely. Given the current market shortages, we still see demand outstripping supply until more fishing areas can open and volumes start to increase. We will continue to keep our customers informed with the most up-to-date information and pricing as it becomes available.*
As we move into fall we find some of the most important king crab fisheries. The Russian Far East, Barents Sea, and then the Alaska Red king crab seasons. Russia will be harvesting over 26,000 M/t and supplying the Asia live market as well as the processed markets in Japan, Asia, and the U.S. With the closure or curtailment of most food service operations and on line ordering, seafood marketers this year have been challenged to find other ways to move the product. Not many carryout restaurants serve king crab or snow crab so retail is the market of choice. The level of support at retail supermarkets and club stores for king crab and snow crab has been remarkable. Product flew through the system and we found that 69,268,393 lbs of Canadian snow crab alone was imported during the three month period of May through July! King crab volumes of course are much lower but also gained significant support from retail. For now costs on all sizes (Reds and Golds) have been firm and are expected to remain so through the holiday season. Russian King Crab: The market for both red and golden Russian crab remains full steady; supplies are light for a moderate to active demand. Some still higher offers are noted. Inventories remain thin and higher priced replacement product is reported to be putting upward pricing on the market.
Seafood | Scallops
For 2021 the quota has been reduced from 52 million lbs down to 40 million pounds and another 20 % reduction YOY. As landings fall off we expect to see more imports this season out of the preferred areas of Peru and Japan while China exports wane in comparison due to the current tariffs. Sizes for the 2020 season were heavier on the smaller 30-40 and 40-50 ct sizes. For the 2021 season we expect fewer of the larger sizes in the U10 's and 10-20 ct ranges. . Large scallops will be short at increased costs and there is expected abundance of smaller sizes. As the vaccines become more available , more restaurants open with added capacity we expect the 2021 season demand for scallops to be strong overall *
China production plants are still running at reduced volume (70%) as there is still a lack of demand around the world because of the Covid-19 impact.
Seafood | Salmon
Imports of frozen Atlantic fillets increased when compared to the previous month 1.4 percent. In addition, on a YTD basis, imports are 25.3 percent higher. Imports from Chile increased 32.8 percent from the previous month and remains now 20.2 percent higher on a YTD basis. Imports from Norway decreased 38 percent compared to the previous month but continues to see a 20.8 percent increase on a YTD basis. We must mention that we assume this HS code includes frozen portions.
The Norwegian Salmon industry has been operating during the pandemic, and although volume is down the pricing affected the large fish (6+ Kg) the most as this was for Asian markets. The food service industry has been heavily impacted as we know, but retail business picked up a lot of this volume and as such kept harvesting and production moving. With a mild winter, less harvesting in early spring we would think that we will see more volume pushed towards late summer and/or fall which normally will lead to pressure on prices, and more than the usual fall pressure. Prices are supposed to move up a bit based on FishPool, but we are not sure this will be the case as there is a large number of fish still in the water. Sea lice is becoming a bigger issue with warmer water and faster growth, so that could mean more small fish being harvested which again can affect future harvesting this fall. But the biggest question remains the exchange rate into the fall as the USD is getting weaker and weaker. Note per Undercurrent News : Norwegian salmon spot prices are likely to be volatile from week to week over the next month or so as harvest volumes are expected to rise year over year. Many expect the harvest profile for 2021 to be similar to 2020 with little growth the first half of the year with more fish during the second half. However supply growth next year is supposed to be negative for Chile during the second half of the year. Smolt released for harvest during the latter part of 2021 is down 26% y o y with only two more months left in the release period. Per Undercurrent News: Norwegian growth is expected to pick up next year, expecting Norway's Atlantic Salmon production volumes to rise by 4.2% in 2021, exceeding a national production of 1.4 million MT. As pf late spot prices for Norwegian farmed salmon climbed to their highest levels since the fall in week 52 of 2020 according to the NASDAQ Salmon index. The index has prices rising by 7.7% week on week in NOK terms. This is a 9.1% increase over the past four weeks in NOK terms.
As supply has become more available 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 had diminished some, the picture is not all gloomy, as the retail sector has been booming and has taken up some of the slack. Note however even with the issues being reported government officials do not feel that this will affect production in Chile as they have been monitoring this closely at the plant level for some time and this industry is considered to be essential.