Weekly global protein digest: World Bank says food prices have peaked, HPAI in California, Chicken Big Mac

Analyst Jim Wyckoff shares an update on the US futures market, USDA reports and global protein news
calendar icon 26 August 2022
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World Bank: “We believe food prices reached their highest level in the second quarter of 2022”

World Bank Senior Agriculture Economist John Baffes said last week in an interview with the Japan Times, noting that the World Bank’s Food Price Index has dropped by roughly 12% since its high in April.

Commercial chicken flock confirmed with HPAI in California

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said a commercial broiler breeder flock of 33,900 birds in Fresno County, California, has highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), marking the 21st state to have HPAI in a commercial operation. With three infections in commercial flocks in Utah last month, there are now four U.S. flocks still under active quarantine in the U.S.

Some Senate Democrats call for USDA to rethink efforts on methane digesters

Five Senate Democrats want USDA to back away from plans to encourage the installation of methane digesters at livestock operations, warning USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a letter that the effort will result in more consolidation in agriculture and the U.S. food industry. The lawmakers cited costs for a methane digester range from $400,000 to $5 million and “would not be economic viable without significant public subsidies and incentives.” They argued that money spent on subsidizing methane digesters are funds that “cannot be spent on alternative manure management strategies or regenerative agriculture practices.”

Chicken Big Mac to be tested by McDonald’s after an upbeat U.K. trial

McDonald's will be testing a chicken Big Mac in select Miami-area locations later this month, the company confirmed to USA Today. The menu item was first introduced in the United Kingdom earlier this year and met with much positive feedback, selling out less than two weeks. "We're always looking to give our fans more ways to enjoy the classic menu items they know and love," McDonald's said in a statement. "Made with two crispy tempura chicken patties, our iconic Big Mac sauce, and topped off with pickles, shredded lettuce, and American cheese, this sandwich brings some of our fans' favorite flavors together for the perfect bite."

Beef is getting cheaper, bringing some economic relief to consumers

Prices of beef in the US, typically among the costliest grocery store purchases, are falling after more than a year of increases, as consumer demand softens for some cuts. Supplies are improving due to better staffing at meat plants, and supermarkets are offering more discounts on rib-eye, New York strip and other often-expensive products, according to the WSJ. Retail beef prices fell 0.7% for the four-week period ended Aug. 7, compared with the same period a year ago, according to data from research firm Information Resources Inc. That decline came after beef prices fell 1% during the prior four-week period, which was the first monthly decline since June 2021.

Latest USDA monthly cold storage report

July 2022 Highlights

Total frozen poultry supplies on July 31, 2022 were up 5 percent from the previous month and up 6 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 12 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 3 percent from last month but down 3 percent from July 31, 2021.

Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 23 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 27 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 20 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 20 percent from last month but up 53 percent from last year.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on July 31, 2022 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from July 31, 2021.

Butter stocks were down 5 percent from last month and down 21 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 22 percent from last month but down 2 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 10 percent from last month but down slightly from a year ago.

China’s pork imports unchanged in July but well below year-ago

China imported 120,000 MT of pork in July, unchanged from June but down 65.1% from last year. Through the first eight months of this year, China imported 930,000 MT of pork, also down 65.1% from the same period last year.

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