Freshly Picked, June 30, 2020


Alerts & What’s Trending

Produce

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Weather during this time of year can bring added volatility to the produce markets. The roma tomato markets are priced above a year ago due in part to hot temperatures, which may be challenging production. Tomato prices usually fade during July but rise in August. Avocado prices remain well below year ago levels on adequate supplies and soft food service demand. Yet, Hass avocado prices since 2015 have averaged 9.3% higher in July compared to June. Potato supplies are fairly tight due in part to last year’s light harvest which can support prices.

Grains

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The row crops remain under price pressure as current weather forecasts point towards expanded corn and soybean yields on already large production expectations. Drought continues to threaten some winter and spring wheat output, but strong international wheat exports continue to keep pressure on our domestic prices.

Dairy

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The CME cheese block and barrel markets remain historically inflated.  The butter markets have been softening.  Per the USDA, May 31st U.S. cheese inventories were up 5% compared to the previous year.  Butter stocks at the end of May were up 21.2% (y/y). Anticipate cheese prices to correct lower due in part to lessening exports and solid production.  Long term contracting should be on hold.  The butter markets could experience some modest declines from here but prices usually firm during the summer as cream supplies become seasonally tight.  Some long-term buying for your butter needs may be deemed.  

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Beef

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Beef output last week jumped sharply going into this holiday shortened week, with the week’s 562.3 million pounds coming in as the sixth largest weekly production total on record.  Further price pressure is being applied to the USDA Choice cutout which may persist well after the Fourth of July week. Price weakness for the end meats should subside but middle meats will likely still weigh heavy on the cutout. The beef 50s remain under pressure as big kills and fat cattle remain the industry theme. Some buying interest may pick up at lower prices, but another COVID bout may temper restaurant business.  

Pork

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Weekly hog harvests last week jumped 5.4% over a year ago and are now again in line with the year-over-year gains noted throughout 2019 and early 2020. Hog supplies are abundant so anticipated pork production to remain robust throughout the summer. Wholesale pork prices have been struggling but look for a floor in the markets as prices are at attractive value levels both, domestically, and from an export perspective. Ham prices likely have additional upside potential, but pork bellies may be choppy to slightly higher going into the summer.  

Poultry

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For the week ending June 20th, chicken slaughter faded from the week prior, and was down 4.6% from a year ago.  Still, heavier bird weights salvaged some of the production declines as ready-to-cook supplies were down just 2.4% (y/y).  Broiler chicks placed continue to indicate a supply recovery is forthcoming, but production may remain modestly behind a year ago. The chicken wing and breast meat complexes have found some support while the dark meat sector continues to struggle. Take note that the prospective July start to both basketball as well as baseball may underpin chicken wing prices, but COVID concerns however have left restaurant reopenings in question moving forward.  

Seafood

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The Canadian snow crab fishing season is entering its final stages after a COVID-19 delayed start. As of June 29th, 81% of the Newfoundland quota had been landed.  Both the Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab quotas are higher this year and slack food service activity is tempering demand.  Still relatively limited snow crab supplies are anticipated to persist.  

Oil

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Nearby natural gas futures earlier in June set a 25-year low but have recently firmed. U.S. natural gas stocks as of last week were 32.5% more than last year which should temper any big price gains this summer.  But there is price support at $1.500.