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LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS : Top Stories of the Day

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05/15/2019 | 04:10pm EDT

TOP STORIES

Chinese Pork Buyers Await Trade Talk Resolution -- Market Talk

08:35 ET - Chinese pork importers are waiting on a resolution to the US-China trade talks before big shipments of US-raised pork start flowing across the Pacific, says Tyson Foods CEO Noel White. While African swine fever-driven losses in China's world-leading hog herd have led to around 111 million pounds of US pork booked for import in recent weeks, White says, shipments haven't started flowing as trade talks between the US and China progress. Even if China hangs back, though, the sheer size of its pork needs -- this could be around 10M metric tons -- means Chinese importers will buy lots of meat from somewhere, tightening global supplies and lifting prices generally, White says at a BMO conference in New York. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

North American Meat Shuffle Boosting Chicken -- Market Talk

11:38 ET - China's rapidly growing need for pork, its own supplies dented by a fast-spreading hog disease, is altering flows of meat across North America, and boosting some chicken prices, says the CEO of Pilgrim's Pride. US pork exporters have dialed down sales to Mexico and instead have been selling more to Canada, as the US's northern neighbor ships more of its own pork production to China because Canadian pork is not facing the same level of China tariffs that US pork has. Jayson Penn, Pilgrim's CEO, says lower US pork exports to Mexico have boosted chicken consumption, and prices, in that country, where Colorado-based PPC is one of the biggest producers. "That pork situation really created a big hole in Mexico that chicken took advantage of," Penn says at a BMO conference in New York. (Jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Chinese Buyers Eye US Chicken Legs -- Market Talk

09:54 ET - Chinese meat importers are ramping up purchases as the world's top pork-consuming country struggles with a shortfall in pork production, due to a rapidly spreading hog disease. Joe Sanderson, CEO of US chicken giant Sanderson Farms, says the Mississippi company has had inquiries on poultry sales to China, and not just the leg-quarter portions that have historically been sold to China. Potential buyers have been asking about whole chicken legs, Sanderson says, indicating the depth of the country's need to replace its lost pork production. For now, US chicken remains effectively shut out of China, pending a resolution to the US-China trade disputes, Sanderson says at a New York conference. (Jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Tyson Foods Sees Billion-Dollar Potential in Fake Meats -- Market Talk

08:49 ET - The biggest US meat company sees big potential in plant-based meat alternatives: "Can it be a billion-dollar brand? Yeah, it can be," says Tyson Foods CEO Noel White, on the Arkansas company's plan to launch its own meat alternative in the months ahead. White says at a New York conference that Tyson's been a believer for some time in the potential market for meat replacement products, though up to this point it's been as an investor in startups like plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat, which launched a hugely well-received IPO this month. Tyson exited before that listing, though White said it still was "a good investment for us." (Jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

ADM Still Believes US, China Will Drop Tariffs -- Market Talk

14:55 ET - ADM CEO Juan Luciano says he's still holding out hope the US and China will resolve their yearlong trade battle--at least the tariffs--and if not, ADM's 2019 results might not improve upon 2018's. "I don't believe there is not going to be a deal," Luciano says at an investor conference. While he expects the tariffs will drop at some point, he says that "there's always going to be a latent conflict between the two countries," based on the size and competing priorities of the two economies. For ADM itself, "the more this is delayed, the probability becomes lower that 2019 will be better than 2018," Luciano says. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

FUTURES MARKETS

Hog Futures Continue to Climb -- Market Talk

15:31 ET - June lean hog futures on the CME continue their ascent following a brief decline in the aftermath of China's announcement of retaliatory tariffs on Monday. Hog futures finished up 3%, at 91.825 cents per pound. It's the first day that the contract has closed above the 90-cent level since May 3. The upward momentum for hogs appears to be supported by strong demand for pork globally, but it has not brought the live cattle futures contract with it. Live cattle did finish up, but only by 0.2%, at $1.09675 per pound. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

CASH MARKETS

 
Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - May 15 
 
All figures are on a per-head basis. 
 
Date     Standard Margin       Estimated margin 
         Operating Index         at vertically - 
                             integrated operations 
May 15       -$  0.49            +$ 53.12 
May 14       +$  4.39            +$ 57.12 
May 13       +$  4.28            +$ 55.05 
 
* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production. 
A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of production of the animals. 
 
Beef-O-Meter 
This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite 
values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices. 
 
                                 Beef 
          For Today             Choice   94.8 
      (Percent of Year-Ago)     Select   99.3 
 
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports 
 

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Wednesday fell 55 cents per hundred pounds, to $219.57, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 93 cents per hundred pounds, to $208.04. The total load count was 143. Wholesale pork prices fell $1.86, to $85.11 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

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