Monday, January 1, 2001

Fresh From The Farm Produce Market Update

February 18, 2009
The lettuce market has a little more strength than the previous week. Supplies seem to be average but some shippers are beginning the day sold out. Strong winds left debris and dirt on most lettuce lots. Also there will be epidermal peel due to the lettuce ice from last week. There is above average quality from most shippers. Mexico has product available as well. In Florida, the lettuce fields in Belle Glade were hit hard by the freeze. Most quality reports are stating fair to poor.

This is another market on the rise, and showing some strength. Supplies on all leaf will be tight for the week. Most shippers are ahead of their projected harvesting times on the leaf fields. Quality continues to be above average. Some quality defects showing up will be epidermal peel, fringe burn, tip burn, and wind burn. In Florida, the lettuce fields in Belle Glade were hit hard by the freeze.

The broccoli market has started the week similar to the end of last week. Cold temperatures and rain has supplies limited in all of the growing regions. Cold weather and rain is expected this week. Weather will dictate who has supplies and who doesn’t. There continues to be good availability of broccoli crowns out of Mexico. Florida is also harvesting with moderate supplies.

Again, cold weather and rain has altered the harvesting plans of this commodity. Pricing could get stronger daily. This market is active with supplies getting tight, and expected to be all week. Some shippers are already buying on the outside to cover business. Some quality defects that have been showing upon arrivals have been black spotting, off white color, and yellowing. For east coast options, Florida is back in business on cauliflower.

California Carrots are in good supply for all cuts, packs, and sizes with quality being good out of Bakersfield and Coachella. For the East Coast options, Georgia has fresh carrots available.
Supplies are still short on all sizes of celery. Strong rains and high winds in the Oxnard region have made this commodity very difficult to grow and harvest, pushing the market even higher. Expect product to be tight throughout the week. Florida is in full swing production as an east coast option.

Strawberries: Rain had the California production at a stand still over the weekend, although some shippers had harvested on Sunday with the break in the weather. There is very little to no fruit currently available in California. We can expect low to no production out of California for the duration of this week (weather permitting). Quality of what fruit California can harvest will be poor with a variety of problems such as, pin rot, decay, white shoulders and overall water soaked berries. McAllen should be slowing down and coming to the end of their deal very soon so expect a drop out of that area by the end of February. Florida has been experiencing much warmer weather than the past few weeks, and this is helping production significantly.

Raspberry production continues tight this week due to declining transfers from Chile and Mexico. There are significantly less raspberries crossing currently. There has been some local California production, but with the current rain patterns the numbers have fallen greatly. We can expect tight supplies for the foreseeable future.
Blackberry production has been steady and continues steady with the exception of a couple of shippers that are in lower supply. There are consistent transfers from Mexico and reports of quality remains good.
Blueberry transfers are slowing down from Chile and some shippers are looking for higher fobs. We are also seeing fruit getting held up at the ports due to USDA holds on vessels, which in turn is slowing the release of fruit and keeping supplies thin. Reports of quality have been mixed, some good, some with mold.

With February being “Potato Lovers Month” maybe it can bring a little life back to the market? Shippers are testing higher markets with some success, to a limited degree. Processors are now starting to offer a more lucrative price then what the fresh market is bringing and growers are trying to limit the potatoes to the fresh market. Also some shippers are starting to run out of the Norkotah variety, leaving only Burbanks. Wisconsin and Colorado still have good supplies and quality. Colored potatoes are loading out of Washington, North Dakota and Wisconsin with good supplies and quality. California is going with all varietals available.

There are good supplies of all colors and sizes of onions in Idaho and Washington. Mexican product is now in Texas with good supplies of all colors, quality is very good. The market is flat with the lack of demand. Load volume deals are still available.


Inventories continue strong on all apples, with 100’s and 113’s being the most abundant. Most all varieties are available and quality is very good on all apples right now. Due to the abundant supplies, there are a few shippers that have decided not to pack some grades, sending more fruit to processing for juice than they have in many years. Regional production areas including Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and North Carolina continue shipping light supplies of storage apples; demand remains only light for those. With Pears, Bartletts out of WA are pretty much finished up. Anjou, Bosc, and Golden Bosc, are available, as well as a few other varieties.

Pineapple demand has been very good—as supplies are below forecast due to adverse weather in Central America. Look for this to continue through February. Quality is good to very good.

Mexican growers have cut back on shipments in an effort to raise the market. Demand is very strong. Chilean season is coming to its end. Supplies are limited. In California rain has slowed the harvest this week. Growers will resume as weather dries, but no heavy harvest is expected until April.

Midseason and Hamlin Juice Oranges are finishing. Valencia’s are just getting started. The early Valencia’s are large. We are getting very few 100s and 125s. Quality is excellent. Temple and Orlando Tangelos will finish this week. Red Grapefruit is plentiful and quality is good. Grapefruit will run through April 5th. Honey Tangerines are plentiful and the quality and color this year has been excellent. We will run through early April.
Market steady to strong, due to the current rains we have experienced and we are forecasted for clear weather from tomorrow to the weekend and then another storm coming in. The fruit quality is excellent and is eating wonderfully, but you will see a tinge of green due to the gibbed fruit, but over all fruit is strong and firm. Market should keep steady and will firm on the smaller fruit as we go forward.
LEMONS: Market has softened with heavy volume on 115’s and larger which are the sizes that most shippers are dealing on. The 140’s and smaller are not as soft. The overall quality is good with some excellent quality out of dist. 1.Look for good volumes of lemons through the month of March and things will strengthen after that due to dist. 3 finishing their fruit. The overall quality should stay good if weather cooperates.
LIMES: Market is steady with good supplies of fruit on all sizes and fruit has excellent color and good quality with excellent juice content. Look for market to keep steady as supplies will remain the same as we go forward and color will stay good as well.

Market is still strong due to good demand and lighter supplies entering the States. The overall quality of the fruit has been outstanding with good color and finish. The reds have been eating very well and we are starting to finish up on flames and will now move into the crimsons and rubies. The greens will remain Thompsons and expect the market to stay steady.

CANTALOUPES: Market has softened due to better supplies from the offshore fruit and better supplies out of Mexico. The fruit quality has been fair with some weaker fruit due to lighter than normal sugar levels. The fruit is not as strong as we would like to see and you will see the green cast and some varieties with a light straw color. The fruit is eating fair at best.

HONEYDEWS: Market has also softened due to better supplies of fruit from both regions as well. There are good supplies of all sizes and overall quality has been good to fair with some scarring, but fruit is cutting very good and eating very good a swell. Look for market to keep steady and supplies to also keep steady at this point.

WATERMELONS: Slight improvement this week in watermelons, but still supply is low over all. Mexico is coming into some very light supplies of both seedless and seeded melons, but the pipeline is still very empty. Market continues very strong with a demand exceed situation on seedless and seeded. Honduras has started watermelons but it is just daily supplies at this point. We expect these conditions to stay this way for the next few weeks as supplies are on the light side.

Honduras and Mexico continue to supply the markets in the east as all of what was left in Florida was lost to the freeze. Expect the markets to remain tight for another couple of weeks.

Western Cucumber: Cool weather in Mexico is slowing production crossing into Nogales. Volume and quality will be down for the next couple of weeks.

Bells: The pepper market strengthening this week as demand increases and supplies diminish due to weather. Two weeks in a row of near freezing temperatures, in addition to a spell of wet weather should be enough to keep supplies tight for a couple of weeks.

Green bells from Mexico continue to cross into Nogales in lighter volumes. Demand is good. Red and yellow bell supplies remain off as older fields finish and new fields are slow in coming into production.

Very Light supplies. Quality is fair to good. Markets are strong. Heavy losses are being reported from South Florida.

Nogales supplies from Southern Mexico are fair on Italian, but Yellow is very tight with some lots showing very poor quality.

East – Tomato production is now going to be more on the smaller sized fruit. We will see a lack of big fruit due to the past freeze damage. We should expect a gap in production as we approach the spring picking due to some growers having to replant fields.

West – Tomato supplies in Nogales are plentiful with many shippers selling at minimum prices. Shippers are looking for as much business as they can get. It does not look like supplies will diminish anytime soon.

Weekly Market Update Report

Perishables & Non-Perishables

DATE: February 18, 2009


CHEESE: Barrels closed at $1.2300 and 40# blocks at $1.2400. The weekly average for barrels is $1.1990(+.0660) and blocks, $1.2065 (+.0530). The CME group cash cheese market continues to firm. Bulk cheese supplies have tightened as buyers rebuild inventory and others prepare for planned feature activities. Other buyers are stockpiling supplies for later year use and may not need as much cheese as usual later. Financial limitations are still affecting supplies both held and entering aging programs. Cheese production is fairly steady. 2008 U.S. cheese exports totaled 289.7 million pounds, up 70.3 million pounds (32%) from 2007. 2008 U.S. cheese imports total 375.5 million pounds, down 60.0 million pounds (-14%).
(Source: USDA Dairy Market News, Week of February 9-13, 2009)

BUTTER: The cash butter price at the CME Group has held steady this week and remains 5 1/4 cents above support. Western produced bulk butter continues to clear to CCC with 454,997 pounds moving during the week. Since the first of the year, nearly 4.1 million pounds of butter have been offered to the government. Churning schedules across the country are seasonally quite active. Butter producers remain cautious with their additional cream purchases. In most instances, butter producers are managing their production schedules to be in line with needs. Although butter producers are taking advantage of favorably priced cream offerings and clearing this production to inventory. With the cash price slightly higher than the support price, most producers and handlers indicate that there are minimal down side factors that would jeopardize this decision. In general, sales to retail outlets are in better shape than to food service accounts. The economy is being called the reason for this to be happening.
(Source: USDA Dairy Market News, Week of February 9-13, 2009)

MILK: Heavy Class I demand last week and into the beginning of this week based on lower first-of-the-month prices meant intakes at many balancing plants were lower. Shipments out of Florida fell to 120 loads compared 166 loads the previous week, largely based on an uptick in consumer demand. Additionally, with many school districts scheduling a holiday at the start of next week, fluid milk demand has softened. Eastern milk production is climbing as expected and balancing plants are keeping busy clearing intakes. Milk production in California is steady to marginally lower as producers are making tough decisions by increasing culling and adjusting feed rations to less costly mixes. Arizona and New Mexico milk output is gaining seasonally, as are fat/ protein tests. Throughout the Pacific Northwest, Utah and Idaho, most plants are concentrating on processing intakes from regular sources versus clearing additional intakes from neighboring regions.
(Source: USDA Dairy Market News, Week of February 9-13, 2009)

EGGS: Similar to the occurrences of yesterday, a few more harbingers of improvement in retail demand were reported. Food service demand, on the other hand, lags relatively far behind traditional norms. Completed wholesale trades of certified larger product are reasonably supportive of existing quotations, while that of the lighter weights offer varying degrees of support to them except in the Northeast, where they are mostly discounted. Information tendered on brown eggs this morning was inconclusive. In the aggregate, supplies are ample. Eggs for breaking are not aggressively sought. The market is attempting to test on the larger sizes.
(Source: Urner Barry Market Update – February 13, 2009,)

Commodity Meat: Beef, Poultry, Pork

Boxed Beef Overview:
Market at a Glance
Harvest Last Week – 614,000 This Week – 610,000
Fed Cattle Harvest – 475,000 Cow Harvest – 139,000
Packer Production 36 hours average
Market Tone Weakness building
Packer Inventory Substantial Carryover
Summary: Weekend demand fell far below expectations with Retail and Foodservice both failing to attract customer to the Beef category. Despite significant production cutbacks (Fed Cattle Harvest 475,000 head) packer’s carried inventory from last week into this week with Tyson and Cargill in the worst position.
Expect spot market buys this week on Rib Eyes, Strip Loins and Tenderloins. Packers will use price to attract buyers. Chuck and Round cuts will also be discounted this week but not to the degree as the middle meats.
Chuck Meat: Soft
No Export volume
Rib Meat: Soft
Lack of demand and high packer inventories will force additional price discounting in the Rib category. Market appreciation is unlikely short term.

Loin Meat: Soft
Choice 5/up PSMO Tenderloins are still a problem for the industry. Expect daily trade on Tenderloins. Packers are looking for a volume buyer to step into the market.

While the Rib Eye is getting most of the attention, the Strip Loins is struggling even more then the Rib Eye. Expect trade throughout the week.

Round Meats: Soft
Packer will need to address minor inventories issues throughout the Round complex.
Inside Rounds, Gooseneck, Flats and Eyes should trade lower in the spot market to clear

Ground Beef: Soft
The seasonal value of Ground Beef will be under downward price pressured due to the decreasing value of Cow lean meats for grinding and poor consumer demand.


Boneless breasts continued to decease early in the week. Expectations are that we have a few more weeks of softness before a combination of menu rotation, seasonal demand and production cuts drives demand and prices higher. Tenders and wings look set to weaken in the next few weeks. The demand for wings have past their peak and inventories are nearly replenished. The spread in price between tenders and boneless breast has caused some hesitation among tender buyers. The stories remain essentially the same for dark meat and whole birds. Dark meat, leg quarters and boneless skinless thigh meat, is steady to firm. Export demand is strong for leg quarters but financing remains a hang up. There is a fine three way balance when looking at boneless thigh meat. As with all things chicken, production cuts have made their impact, suppliers moving whole birds into retail also decrease supply. Additionally with boneless thighs there is a labor variable. The training and expertise needed for this item prevents easy line substitution. Whole birds continue to look steady to slightly soft as suppliers move birds into retail channels trying to get the proper balance with more expensive parts processing.


Smaller birds increased for the week with larger birds steady. We should be at the bottom of the whole bird market.

First quarter production numbers so far have been higher than forecasted, but forecasters still believe sharp production cuts are still to come due in most part to pig crops that were down over 2.5% from September to November 2008.

Hams: Steady to Firm
Short terms forecasts continue to call for a gradual climb to higher prices for both heavy and light hams, but any increases should be minimal. Forecasters do not believe we will see a major Easter run up in prices due in most part to tempered expectations by retailers.

Bacon: Steady
Reduced demand will continue to keep prices well below 5 year averages. Forecasters are calling for steady markets for the near future.

Loins: Firm
Trades on Bone-In loins were very erratic last week trading from the high 80’s into the low 100’s. Forecasters expect the higher level on Bone-In loins to hold for the near future. Historically interest on boneless loins is weak at this time of year, and 2009 is no different. However, forecasters believe that buyers will not be able to stay away from the current value proposition boneless loins represent and are calling for boneless loins to begin working higher.

Butts: Firm
Recent trades are beginning to bring pork butt values up towards 5 year averages. Forecasters believe this run up will continue into the mid 80’s before leveling off around the 80 mark by early March.

Spare Ribs: Firm
As expected sparerib prices have slowly climbed week to week. Look for prices to continue advancing further as we inch closer to the main consumption season.

Trimmings: Firm
Forecasters expect prices to begin to their gradual seasonal increases, but do not expect either the lean or fat trim markets to reach 2008 levels.


Value-added Shrimp: 21-25 through 31-40 count cooked white shrimp moved slightly lower while the balance of the cooked white market was steady. Cooked black tiger shrimp are barely steady with discounting noted. Peeled shrimp are steady.

Gulf Domestic Shrimp: The overall climate remains somewhat dull, however pockets of interest have developed. Movement on 21-25 count shrimp is reportedly improved, and possibly the result of some buyers downsizing from 16-20’s. Full steady to some higher sales have been noted on this size. 26-30 and smaller counts continue full steady to firm. However, large counts like 16-20 and larger continue under selling pressure. These sizes comprised the bulk of late-season landings and possibly are the hardest hit by the economy. PUD’s also ranged full steady to firm as a result of ongoing supply concerns.

Mexican White Shrimp 16-20 count Mexican farm-raised white shrimp are barely steady to weak. 21-25 count are steady while 26-30 count from all areas are full steady to firm. The balance of the HLSO market is steady.

White Shrimp 26-30 count HLSO white shrimp are full steady with a firm undertone as some offerings are noted slightly higher. The balance of the market from all areas is steady to full steady.

Black Tiger Shrimp: 21-25 count are full steady to firm while 26-30 count and smaller are strong and short of full needs with premiums noted. The balance of the market is steady.

North American Lobster Meat & Tails
Maine production was reported as nil. Market prices reflect product of Canada only. Although the Canadian
supply has been reported as fully adequate, many sellers reported paying higher prices for replacement product. In addition to the rising costs, an increase in demand was reported. Both contributed to the firm market conditions
West Australian Lobster Tails: West Australian lobster tails are barely steady to weak and under selling pressure as sellers are motivated to move off inventory for a dull demand. 7-8 oz. (B2) tails may be offered higher than listed B’s. New season production is increasingly available to the market.

Warm Water Lobster Tails: The market is about steady at listed levels with some limited discounting noted except for 8 oz. tails which are full steady.

King Crab: The red king crab market adjusted lower on mid-to small sized crab. Supplies are adequate for a dull demand. Larger red crab, 6-9 and 9-12s, are unchanged. The golden crab market trended lower on 12-14s, 16-20s, and 20 and up count crab. Supplies are adequate to fully adequate for a quiet demand.

AK Opilio: The new season Alaskan quota announced 58,550,000 lbs which is down about 7% from last year’s 63,034,000 lbs. Fishing is now going on with 14% of the quota caught through the 24th of January. Prices should be more known and settled within a week.

Dungeness; Inventories are good. Pricing is down a little but seems to have stabilized and may push upward a little in the months to come as fishing pressure on the coast has diminished and most of the current catch is going live.

Pasteurized Crab Meat
A weak market was reported on Fresh Venezuelan meat as well as pasteurized Indonesian meat. The lack of demand was cause for the falling prices. Some sellers of fresh meat reported a loss of sales to pasteurized product. With a slowdown in demand, and the economy in general, some buyers are unwilling to hold fresh product. Burdensome inventories of Indonesian meat caused sellers to offer deeper discounts today. The market for Chinese meat was about steady. Some weakness was noted on super lump.

SCALLOPS: March 1, 2009 will start the NEW 2009/2010 Sea Scallop season. We do not have the official allocation yet, but we are expecting this information in the next 2-3 weeks. National Marine Fisheries Services preferred plan is the following:

5 Closed area trips ( 3 Elephant Trunk , 1 Delmarva , 1 Closed Area 2 )

42 Open Days at Sea ( 7 days increase from 35 in 08/09 ) this is not final.
This season we will see 60% less U/10 volume than we did in the 08/09 season. This is because the Lightship Area is shut down. We will get minimal amounts from the ETA and CA2 area roughly 30% of catch. We may catch some U/10 scallops from the Open Access Areas but only 5% or less of the total catch from the 42 days.

The volume / majority size that we are expecting in the ETA and CA2 and Delmarva are 12 - 18 ct based on the recent catches made over the last month. We are going into the time of year where the scallops will spawn and the meats will get larger over the next 30-90 days based on the water temperature.

In the Open Areas: Channel / Georges Bank / Mid - Atlantic - We are expecting this volume to be 10/20 and 20/30

The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) will meet in February 2009 to make final the scallop fishing regulations for the new season, presenting them to National Marine Fisheries Service. There are many issues on the table: Animal groups want fishing suspended in the waters off NJ during summer months to protect sea turtle activity, even though no turtles have been caught by scallop vessels. Yellowtail Flounder by catch counting procedures in closed areas are being investigated, as the Lightship area abruptly closed with many boats loosing trips. These issues, along with how many open days and closed area trips the vessels will be given for 2009 still need to be finalized into law using amendment 15. The council is also working on a long range fishery plan that has to be in place by 2010.

Pangasius Hypophthalmus (Striped Pangasius, Swai) / Pangasius Bocourti (Basa)
There is still a pressure on pricing as worldwide demand has changed due to the economic situation. More product is coming to the U.S. than previously, putting downward pressure on prices.

Domestic production for 2008 was only 3% higher than 2007 but the trend for 2009 is for lower production than in 2008. Imports of Channel Catfish are once again increasing, but not enough to replace the domestic production that has been lost. Other catfish species other than Channel Catfish are filling the void. Production of Channel Catfish in China is nearly done for the year. The harvest will resume in August.

Pacific cod
Cod is available in good quantities. The new season has opened. Prices
have softened. This is a great value fish!!!

Flounder / Sole
The 2009 trawl fishery has recently opened in Alaska and many trawlers will initially target Rock Sole to ship to Japan. These vessels will later switch to Yellowfin Sole. Although the 2009 quota for Yellowfin sole has been reduced 7% from 2008, this will have little impact on the supply of fillets. Typically the trawl fleet cannot catch the entire quota each year (only 62% of the 2008 quota was caught). The fishery usually ends when the trawl fleet exceeds the catch limit of non-targeted species

New 2009 Season set for March 21. A little later than the past few
years. Quota is down approximately 10% from 2008. Inventories are
still very strong.

• As of January 31st, after two weeks of fishing, the Bering Sea Pollock fleet had caught only 30,000MT of Pollock.
This compares poorly to the 110,000MT caught after two weeks last year.

Farmed Salmon: The Chilean fillet market adjusted higher on 3-4 and 4-5 pound fillets. Supplies on larger fillets are tight for a moderate to active demand. 1-2 and 2-3s remain unchanged. Supplies of smaller fish are adequate for a moderate demand. The Chilean Steelhead market remains unsettled; both higher and lower offerings were collected. The West Coast wholefish market also trended higher on larger fish, 12 and up; supplies are barely adequate for an active demand. The remainder of the market is steady to full steady for a moderate demand.

Keta: As no new Chum fisheries will occur until June, the focus is on inventories. Inventories are adequate as demand has declined slightly. Expect price to be relatively stable until the start of the second quarter of 2009. If there are still significant quantities in storage at that time, holders of large inventories will seek to sell off fillets at lower prices.

Coho: The frozen inventories are barely adequate. Look for strong pricing
through the winter, especially on once frozen..

Sockeye: Inventories currently are good. Prices have stabilized. This is an
excellent fish to be promoting through lent and beyond.

Chinese processing factories are now closed for the Chinese New Year holiday. There will be no new frozen fillet supply available for about a month. 2008 ended with a gradual decline in fillet prices as China seeks to send more fillets to the U.S. that previously had gone to other countries. As long as the Global economic malaise continues, then this practice will continue and prices should ease further.

The situation is similar to Swordfish. Upcoming peak harvest period and stronger USD could mean softening market.

There has been no change in the domestic calamari front - landings continue to be steady, with the squid slightly smaller than we would like, but not too bad. The weather continues to be a challenge, though this week it has been ok - today at the dock we have over 50,000#s.

Overseas, China is very quiet as a result of Chinese new year, so all production there has stopped. India is between seasons, so there is no real news out of there. In Peru, there have been some landings, for the first time in almost a year. To date the sizing has been pretty small, but it appears that things may be heating up there.

Weekly/Monthly Commodity Market Update

Perishables & Non-Perishables

DATE: March 19, 2009

CHEESE: Barrels closed at $1.3175 and 40# blocks at $1.2500. The weekly average for barrels is $1.2800 (+.0840) and blocks, $1.2410 (+.0640). The cheese market has been rebounding for over a week on the CME Group cash cheese market. Barrels again reached the $1.30 per pound mark, an area of recent resistance. CME Group prices are over 60 cents below the comparable weekly averages in 2008 but less than 20 cents below 2007. Bulk cheese movement through packagers and many processors remains strong, the concern is that replacement orders have been a little slower to develop. Lower Class I milk prices have stimulated retail fluid promotions in selected markets, reducing volumes available for manufacture. Overall cheese production remains seasonally active, reflecting higher 2009 milk receipts.
(Source: USDA Dairy Market News, Week of March 9-13,2009)

BUTTER: The cash butter price at the CME Group continues to edge higher and settled at $1.1850 at week’s end. Churning across the country is seasonally active, although cream supplies are tightening. Demand for cream from Class II operations is increasing as cream cheese and other holiday type product production increases. In instances, some butter producers are looking for outside cream volumes and, if found, are having to move these volumes greater distances than in recent weeks. Butter sales are strong and are expected to pick up even more as the holiday period approaches. Some good features continue to be noted in the dairy case and they are moving good volumes of butter. Food service butter orders are spotty with some segments at near expected levels, but others are slower than anticipated.
(Source: USDA Dairy Market News, Week of March 9-13, 2009)

MILK: Milk intakes are steady to higher seasonally throughout the country as overall volumes continue to edge toward the annual spring peak. Fluid demand in some markets continues to be bolstered by retail feature activity, increasing the volume needed. As spring/holiday breaks start soon at schools and colleges, institutional fluid needs will be erratically steady to lower. Cream supplies have tightened as demand remains seasonally strong from cream cheese and ice cream manufacturers.
(Source: USDA Dairy Market News, Week of March 9-13, 2009)

EGGS: Retail demand remains fairly good to good nationwide. Promotional activity continued to be mentioned in many of the discussions held this morning. Institutional and food service demand is in keeping with the expectations revised because of the prevailing economic climate. Wholesale trading activity is relatively quiet as we complete the second full week of March. Acquisitions of large and extra large are supportive of existing quotations, and supplies here are well-balanced; those involving jumbos and mediums are geographically-variable; those of browns and smalls are generally discounted. Certified eggs for breaking are sought both within, and above, current ranges. In the aggregate, the market is steady to full steady.
(Source: Urner Barry Market Update – March 13, 2009)

Commodity Meat: Beef, Poultry, Pork

Boxed Beef Overview:
Market at a Glance
Harvest Last Week – 623,000 This Week – 625,000
Packer Production Hours have been increased to 40. Packers are starting to increase line speeds
Market Tone Trending higher driven by Rib and Loin meats appreciation
Packer Inventory Packers are balanced Ribs & Loins but carried over Chucks & Rounds
Today’s Sold Position 80%
Summary: Packers unexpectedly added an additional 20,000 head of cattle to this week’s harvest compounding concerns about inventory imbalance within the Chuck and Round complex. Early estimates suggest harvest levels may be has high as 625,000 this week. That will put even more downward price pressure on Chuck and Rounds.
Live cattle prices will likely increase by $1.00 this week and packer’s to probably find in necessary to trade Chucks and Rounds below current market values just to stay ahead of this week’s production.
Chuck Meat: Soft
Export volume is absent for the market. Retail interest in Chuck meat has faded as consumers begin to think about grilling meats and less about Roasts.
Rib Meat: Firm
Rib meat market appreciation should get a second wind in early April and move firmly to spring/summer trade levels.

Loin Meat: Firm
Foodservice and Retail buyers have been competing against one another for seasonal
positions of Top Sirloin Butts. Now well sold deep into the summer months, Top Butts
will continue to appreciate in value and are subject to delivery shortages as the industry
moves into summer.



The market was mostly steady last week with some strength seen in thigh meat. Most analysts see breast meat and tenders as steady this week. Past weeks heavy retail featuring has moved on and with it the impetus for further increases in the breast market for the short term. There is some intermittent strength in tenders as production cuts continue to have an impact even with limited food service demand. Wings continue their unusual strength and should continue steady through March due to NCAA March Madness. Prices for wings are expected to slowly start to decline within the next 3-4 weeks once March madness is over and as new menus should not feature wings. Again with dark meat nothing spectacular, exports are consistent with supply and demand at a seeming equilibrium. Whole birds which should be steady are actually pulling back some more on neglect in this market. What we have been seeing is that if there is no specific retail feature on any item in this market then there is no movement.


Some weakness in larger birds, but mostly slow going in this market with little activity. Egg placements continue to run 8-9% below last year which should tighten up the inventory in this market significantly in the coming months.

As expected weekly harvest numbers are finally dipping below year ago levels. Last week’s # was 5% lower when compared to the same time frame in 2008. This is the signal that suppliers are tightening and pork prices reacted as expected, firming throughout the week overall. As we have been saying for some time now, demand will be the key factor in determining how far prices will go on the forecasted lower supply numbers we are expecting.

Hams: Steady to Soft
Forecasters believe recent increases can be attributed to late Easter interest. We should be mostly past Easter demand which leads forecasters to call for short term softness with modest downside risk over the next few weeks. However, there is no expectation that prices will dip below the $40 level. Once we move into April supply will begin to play a larger role and pricing is expected to move higher toward the end of April.

Bacon: Firm
Bellies began to rally last week closing out Friday at $84 and with a weekly average of $80. That’s a move of $7/CWT in one week. History shows that when they begin to move bellies can increase rapidly. It’s very possible that some of the demand is coming from users locking up their spring and summer needs, but forecasters believe tighter suppliers will help this market hold or potential advance a bit further.

Loins: Firm
In an attempt to boost fresh pork prices packers trimmed back harvest levels more than anticipated. This strategy produced a bit of success especially with boneless loins. Forecasters believe these gains will stick and expect even further strengthening as we move into April on both boneless and bone-in product. Regardless of these forecasted gains the expectation is that prices will remain well below 5 year average and should hover just below 2008 levels.

Butts: Firm
Pork butts were not immune to the production cut backs and moved higher. Looking ahead forecasters expect steady to higher prices for the short term followed by even larger gains toward the end of April.

Spare Ribs: Steady
Trades have been sideways the last few weeks. This is not unexpected based on seasonal trends. We are
inching closer to the grilling season and with each week that passes we move closer to upside potential. Short term forecasters are call for steady markets with upside potential beginning around the middle of April.

Back Ribs: Firm
Markets are beginning to firm. Forecasts call for stronger prices and solid gains now through the middle of May.

Trimmings: Steady to Firm
Forecasters are calling for significant increases in the fat pork trim markets and less increases in the lean trim markets. Overall we expect prices to firm just a bit as we move closer to the grilling season.


Value-added Shrimp: 21-25 count and smaller peeled shrimp are full steady. The balance of the market is steady at listed levels.

Gulf Domestic Shrimp: Despite pockets of interest, and the fact only limited numbers are being replaced, the overall dull climate continues to weigh on the HLSO shrimp market. As a result, prices ranged barely steady to weak across most counts of shrimp, with the exception of the smallest counts which remain thinly supplied. Most PUD’s continue full
steady to firm as a result of depleting supplies and no prospects of replacement. Conversely, 201-300 count PUD’s were discounted in an effort to stimulate buying interest.

Domestic Shrimp
UB Shrimp, Wild, Gulf of Mexico, Domestic Brown, 16-20 Count

Chart based on monthly data

Mexican White Shrimp
16-20 count Mexican farm-raised shrimp are barely steady to weak amid a quiet demand. The balance of the white shrimp market is steady for a fair demand balanced with available supplies.

UB Shrimp, Wild, Mexican, No. 1 White, fob WC, 16-20 Count

Chart based on monthly data

White Shrimp The HLSO market is steady for a mixed demand. While some report a dull inquiry others indicate a fair buying interest. Overseas replacement from Ecuador is reported to mostly match up with current spot offerings. Asian replacement remains disconnected

Urner Barry HLSO Farm-Raised White Shrimp Index

Chart based on monthly data

Black Tiger Shrimp 16-20 count Mexican farm-raised shrimp are barely steady to weak amid a quiet demand. The balance of the white shrimp market is steady for a fair demand balanced with available supplies.

Urner Barry HLSO Black Tiger Shrimp Index

Chart based on monthly data

North American Lobster Meat & Tails
Supplies of lobster tails are in better balance and the market is full steady to fi rm. Lobster meat is mostly steady with a few lower offerings noted.

UB Lobster Tails, American, 4-5 oz.

Chart based on monthly data

UB Lobster Tails, South Africa, 4-4.5 oz., J

Chart based on monthly data

West Australian Lobster Tails: Australian Tails: the West Australian market remains unsettled. South African tails are also unsettled with lower offerings noted in order to generate buying interest.

UB Lobster Tails, West Australia, 6-8 oz., B

Chart based on monthly data

Warm Water Lobster Tails: The market is full steady to firm on prime sized tails with some offerings higher as supplies are limited. The fishing seasons in most areas are now closed with new season production not expected until June.

UB Lobster Tails, Caribbean, 5 oz.

Chart based on monthly data

King Crab: The red king crab market adjusted lower on mid-to small sized crab. Supplies are adequate for a dull demand. Larger red crab, 6-9 and 9-12s, are unchanged. The golden crab market trended lower on 12-14s, 16-20s, and 20 and up count crab. Supplies are adequate to fully adequate for a quiet demand.

UB Crab, Red King, Leg & Claw, 16-20 ct., FOB West Coast

Chart based on monthly data

AK Opilio: Fishing is now going on with 58% of the quota caught through the 26th of February. Japan has stepped in and a fair amount of product is heading that way. Look for pricing to remain fairly stable short term. Canada will be a potential draw down on pricing but won’t be known for a few months.

UB Crab, Snow, Cluster, Newfoundland, 5-8 oz., FOB Mid-Atlantic

Chart based on monthly data

Dungeness; Inventories are good. Pricing is down a little but seems to have stabilized and may push upward a little in the months to come as fishing pressure on the coast has diminished and most of the current catch is going live.

Pasteurized Crab Meat
Thailand :The preservation period in Thai Gulf started from Feb15- May15 and area cover from Chumporn to Surat Thani and all big boats and trawler boats stopped catching and allowed only for small boats including crab boats. The hot weather started very early and begin on second week of Feb and effected a lot to crab landing. The temperature raised up from 29 C to 36 C and crab moved to deeper areas. By overall picture, crab landing in 2009 look better than 2008 in term of volume but not sizing. The crab landing in East of Thai Gulf and Andaman got very poor and slow down in Lower South. But it had crab coming in Upper area of Thai Gulf like Petchburi and Cha Am. The crab size got around 7-10 pcs per kg and it have very strong demand from domestic market which paid higher 10-20% from exporters' buying price. It made all packers didn't active to procure raw meat and had only small packers keep buying. The pasteurized crabmeat had volume about 100,000 - 120,000 Lbs.

Trend on Mar : the volume will stable and quality will drop from hot weather and weak crab.
Indonesia: The bad weather was the major factor to crab landing in Indonesia and it had heavy raining, windy and high tide which fishermen could not go out catching. The crab landed lower volume in all major areas and they got big size like 6 pcs per kg in Cirebon area, West Java and average to small size in East of Java and Sulawesi. The crabmeat price raised up to 125,000 Rupias per kg from high demand of Big packers like Phillips and made all packers followed to their prices to protect their supply sources. Because of slow enquiries from US buyers made all packers running their operation only 50%(less) and selling prices could not cover their costs and expenses. Rupias keep weak at 11,900 -12,000 per USD and didn't help much to exporters. The pasteurized crabmeat had volume about 350,000 -550,000 LBs

Trend on Mar : the vloume expect stable and lower.
Vietnam :The wealther got hot earlier than expected and in same climate as Thailand. The main crab landing area is Hatein where locate in Thai Gulf area. The crab landing dropped over 30% and more 50% in Vong Tau and Nha Tan area. The crab size got average 8-12 pcs per kg and recovery got 22-25% and the buying price kept at low level and poor demand from all packers. Phillips still kept buying and came to bought in Camodia but got poor quality crab. The exchange rate was stable at 17,400-17,500 Dong per USD and many packers had less interest in crab business and changed to packing other seafood products. The pasteurized crabmeat had volume about 120,000 - 150,000 LBs

Trend on Mar: expect stable and less
Philippine: The lean season start from Feb to May and affected to crab landing all areas. The volume dropped by overall 30% especially in Negros, Cebu, Samar, Mindanoa and still maintain volume in Panay, Masbate. The crab size got by average 7-10 pcs per kg and recovery of meat kept at 23-25% by Colossal (2-3%) and Jumbo 20%. Blue Star bought raw meat very aggressive by higher than others $0.50/kg(crabmeat) and made Chicken of the Sea, Phillips and others followed to. Peso are getting weak to 48 Peso per USD and help all exporters can run their business. The pasteurized crabmeat had volume about 120,000 - 150,000 Lbs.

Trend on Mar : getting less about 20-30%
Market Trend : still have demand in Special and Claw but very quiet in Jumbo.

UB Crab Meat, Thai/Indo, Pasteurized, 16 oz. Can, Jumbo Lump, FOB Mid-Atlantic

Chart based on monthly data

SCALLOPS: Its official: NMFS has issued the Sea Scallop management measures for the fishing year March 1, 2009 - February 28, 2010 ( the 2009 fishing year )

- Open area days at sea ( DAS ) - Fulltime vessels will have 37 days this season. This is 2 more than last year. Boats will fish these open days over the next year. most vessels will make 3 trips to use up the 37 days. The size scallops that will come from the open areas will be 10/20 and 20/30

- Sea Scallop access area schedule (Closed Areas ) -Fulltime vessels will have (5) closed area trips for this 2009 season.

1) Closed Area 2 (CA2) - Opens 6/01/09 thru 1/31/10 - we will have 1 trip in this area with each vessel only allowed 18,000 lbs. The Scallop size we will catch in this area will be U/10, 10/20

2) Elephant Trunk ( ETAA ) - Opens 3/01/09 thru 2/28/10 Note: it will close from 9/01/09 thru 10/31/09. It will re open November 1, 2009 Vessels will have (3) trips in this area which will be 54,000 lbs. The Scallop size we will catch from this area will be 10/20 and 20/30 count.

3) Delmarva - This area opens 3/01/09 thru 2/28/10 we will have 1 trip in this area with each vessel only allowed 18,000 lbs. The scallops size we will catch from this area will be some U/10 (10%) and 10/20

Scallop prices are strong right now. The vessels will spread out there catches through the year versus going out and catching more at one given time like we have seen in the past. We will see more of the open area fishing happen during May thru July as that is the best time for production traditionally.

* - U/10 and 10/20 prices will be strong all year as the market will have 50-60% less of this size this season versus last year.

UB Sea Scallops, Domestic, Dry, IQF, 10/20 Count

Chart based on monthly data

Pangasius Hypophthalmus (Striped Pangasius, Swai) / Pangasius Bocourti (Basa)
There is still a pressure on pricing as worldwide demand has changed due to the economic situation. More product is coming to the U.S. than previously, putting downward pressure on prices.

UB Catfish, Striped Pangasius,Swai, Vietnam, Bnls & Sknls Fillet Frozen, 5-7 oz.

Chart based on monthly data

The harvest season for Channel Catfish in China is essentially done until next September. Supplies of catfish fillets held in cold storage are ample to meet market demand. 2008 ended with over 23 million pounds of Channel Catfish imported into the US. This was a 32% increase over 2007.

UB Catfish, Bnls & Sknls Fillet, Fresh, Domestic South, 5-7 oz.

Chart based on monthly data

Pacific cod
NPFMC set 2008 TACs in the BSAI even with those in 2007 and plans to hold them at the same level in 2009.

• In the GOA, the council set 2008 TACs only slightly lower and also plans to hold this level in 2009.

all figures in metric tons (MT) unless otherwise noted
2007 2008 (proj.) 2009 (proj.)
Area Catch/TAC factor TAC Actual catch TAC Proj. catch TAC Proj. catch
BSAI 0.99 170,720 170,154 170,720 169,013 170,720 169,013
GOA 0.80 52,264 41,728 50,269 40,215 50,269 40,215
Total 222,984 211,882 220,989 209,228 220,989 209,228

These projections show a 2008 harvest of approximately 209,000MT, similar to 2007 levels.

2.5.2. Next plan (2010-2011)

• By cross-referencing age class estimates with biomass calculations, we see an above average year 1 class in 2005 followed in 2006 by the strongest year 1 class since 2001.

• As these two above average year classes flow through the scale, this suggests higher catches from 2009 onward.

• Wetherefore expect that TACs and catches for 2010-2011 will improve after subpar years in 2008-09.

all figures in metric tons (MT) unless otherwise noted
Area 2008 (proj.) 2009 (proj.) 2010 (proj.) 2011 (proj.)
BSAI 169,013 169,013 179,154 189,903
GOA 40,215 40,215 42,628 45,186
Total 209,228 209,228 221,782 235,089

We expect statewide annual harvests to rise to 222,000MT in 2010 and 235,000MT in 2011.

Flounder / Sole

The 2009 harvest season has entered its second month in Alaska and the problem of small flounder continues to plague the fishery. Harvesters are adding to the oversupply of small fillets (fillets under 3oz) when they retain these fish, but they must process them under the current retention rules. Prices of whole fish have eased lately as the fillet processors in China struggle to sell the smallest fillets.

New 2009 Season set for March 21. A little later than the past few years. Quota is down approximately 10% from 2008. Inventories are still very strong. Pricing on raw material has softened as people try to prepare for the opener. Look for most product to go fresh for the first few weeks to a month.

• As of January 31st, after two weeks of fishing, the Bering Sea Pollock fleet had caught only 30,000MT of Pollock.
• This compares poorly to the 110,000MT caught after two weeks last year.

At first glance, one might wonder at the current anxiety in the Chilean farmed salmon industry. The industry enjoyed its most profitable year in 2008, exporting some 445,000 metric tons (MT) of product for US$2.4 billion, both records. Farmed salmon prices in the USA – one of Chile’s two primary export markets, with Japan – rose to a record $5.30/kg in January.
But those numbers mask a crisis that has grown since the industry reported its first outbreak of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) mid-2007, a crisis that now threatens several years of turmoil and uncertainty for the industry and the regions in Chile that depend on it.
ISA is a virus that causes a deficiency of hemoglobin in the red blood cells of Atlantic salmon. It survives in sea water and is easily transmitted by contact with an infected fish or equipment. It causes a variety of deaths, from liver and spleen failure to circulatory failure. Scientists know little enough about the virus’ infections that the standard method of control remains to eradicate an infected population.
Since the first outbreak in mid-2007, Chilean farmers have destroyed large volumes of their stocks. For example a producer named Yadran recently reported that its earnings fell from $9.5 million in 2007 to a loss of $17 million in 2008 due in large part to the destruction of $11 million worth of fish. But how did the industry as a whole post a record profit in 2008?
Since ISA’s transmission rate is so high and the only option is eradication once a stock is infected, many companies have tried to salvage some of their investments by harvesting immature fish before they become infected. This practice led to the record export figures in 2008 at the expense of future production. The industry group SalmonChile reported that January inventories were down a whopping 61% from the same point last year.
Further darkening future prospects, many companies have hesitated to seed new fish, worried that if the ISA outbreak continues, it will consume these investments as well. SalmonChile reported January seeding volumes were 83% lower than last year.
Farmed Atlantic salmon reach a mature weight of 4.5kg after 18-20 months, meaning the early harvesting of 2008 inventories and the small 2009 seeding volumes will cause a collapse in production volumes that will last until mid-2010 at the earliest. Though grim, that basic calculation represents an unlikely best case scenario in which the industry contains and eliminates the ISA outbreak in time to resume normal operations by the summer of 2009. More likely, the industry faces skeleton production volumes into 2011 and beyond.
The industry group SalmonChile predicts a mild downturn, with harvests of 320,000MT in 2009 and 2010, followed by a return to strength in 2011. Based on its own inventory and seeding figures, this forecast seems out of touch with reality.
More in line with the inventory and seeding figures was a forecast given by a Marine Harvest executive in a recent FIS article. He predicted a production drop of 50% from 2007 levels to approximately 220,000MT in 2009, followed by an even more severe drop of 70% to 100,000MT in 2010 and 2011. Another source predicted output will not return to 2008 levels until 2015.
If these production estimates transpire, many companies in the industry will be forced to close their doors. Already the industry has amassed some $2.5 billion in bank debt to finance ISA losses. Confronting a minimum of three years of skeleton production and a frozen global credit market, the industry faces a painful period of attrition as less capitalized companies run out of cash.
The industry’s workers stand to suffer even more than their employers. Even as companies were enjoying healthy profits in recent years, wages in the industry have only averaged $330 per month. This places a single income family of four just shy of Chile’s poverty line of $83 per person per month and means laid off workers face an extended period of unemployment with little or no savings and often some debt.
By November 2008, the industry had already laid off 7,500 workers since the ISA outbreak began. With major production cuts looming in 2009 and beyond, some estimate a further 10,000 workers could lose their jobs. Keta:
Price offers from Chinese processors of Keta salmon fillets are finally showing small signs of decreasing; although the decreases have been very small so far. The pressure will increase on the holders of stocks of headed/gutted fish as the new season approaches. For stocks still owned by Japanese processers, the strong Yen is making them reluctant to sell at current prices.
Although the salmon farming industry is not a major employer on a national scale, it is the only large scale employer in Chile’s southern regions X and XI. Without subsidies for retraining or relocation, laid off workers in these two regions have little prospect for other employment.
The Chilean government recognized the threat to the industry and the southern economy and authorized $120 million in loan guarantees and $450 million in infrastructure credits to improve sanitation and productivity. But the industry grumbles that the $120 million loan package stalled in the bureaucracy for over a month and is still less than half the $250 million in new loans it estimates it will need to undertake recovery plans. With global credit markets frozen and a poor production outlook, it is difficult to see where the industry will fill this credit shortfall if not from more government loans.
Workers also grumble about the government plan. They wonder why the government has offered millions of dollars to companies that will continue to lay off workers into the foreseeable future rather than investing in job creation, retraining and relocation of laid off workers.
Sources: Wikipedia, FIS, Patagonia Times, New York Times, Forbes
Implications for frozen seafood buyers:

• Chilean producers are the main suppliers of farmed Atlantic salmon to the USA.

• They are also the world’s main source of frozen farmed salmon – producers in other countries supply mainly fresh product.

• Norway remains one of the main source of frozen fillets to plug the gap.

• Frozen wild salmon is another alternative, but buying patterns may have to adjust to its seasonal pricing and availability.

• Whatever alternative North American buyers choose, it is likely to become a long-term demand shift, as Chilean supply will not be able to regain its place in the market for several years.

Extra inventory is becoming available as Europe’s demand has fallen off a bit. Pricing could begin to soften going forward.
After four consecutive years of huge sockeye salmon harvests on the Pacific coast, early season forecasts for 2009 suggest a supply correction. Alaska’s Department of Fisheries and Game (ADF&G) has yet to release its statewide salmon forecast, but issued a regional one for Bristol Bay, where over 50% of the total sockeye salmon catch occurs on the Pacific coast. Due to the importance of this fishery, it foreshadows the trend for the coastwide sockeye harvest.
Here are the sockeye harvests for the last four years:
Sockeye salmon harvests
all figures in '000s of fish
Area 2005 2006 2007 2008
BC 384 4,195 645 745
Southeast 1,608 1,334 1,905 422
Prince William Sound 1,989 2,525 3,231 1,303
Cook Inlet 5,483 2,428 3,694 2,770
Bristol Bay 24,525 28,493 29,773 27,756
Kodiak 3,052 1,586 2,014 1,819
Other 6,729 5,283 6,851 4,953
Total Alaska 43,386 41,649 47,468 39,023
Grand total 43,770 45,844 48,113 39,768

More likely, the global economic slowdown will overshadow any minor supply fluctuations, as demand retreats with timid consumers.

• In a recession we generally expect middle- and lower-income consumers to forsake mid-range products in favor of low-price alternatives. Sales of high-priced products tend not to suffer as much, as higher-income consumers adjust their spending less.

• Sockeye products are generally in the mid- to high range of seafood prices. Therefore prices for some sockeye products will likely see downward pressure.

Processing of tilapia fillets has resumed in volume now that the New Year’s holiday is over. Supplies of under/5oz are very good at the moment as farmers seek to harvest fish to generate cash. The industry has come close to complete recovery from the freezing weather in 2008. The total supply in 2009 should come close that produced in 2007.

Generally quiet with supply and demand fairly well balanced. Market is stable.

Last weeks winter storm brought all the boats in loaded with squid. The weather kept the boats in for a few days - now they are back out and slated to come in again for the weekend. It is not clear what they have at the moment, but often after storms like this it takes the boats a little time to get back and catching. Overseas there has been no change in status on any of the calamari countries.