Coronavirus to Slow U.S. Meat Production for Months, CEO Says
The coronavirus will likely hamper U.S. meat production for months, as new safety measures and reduced staffing slow plant operations, said the head of the biggest U.S. beef producer.
JBS USA Holdings Inc., which slaughters 23% of the country's cattle and produces nearly one-fifth of its pork, is revamping plant operations to space workers farther apart while about 10% of its workforce has been sent home because of their higher risk from Covid-19, Chief Executive Andre Nogueira said.
"We will not be able to go to full capacity anytime soon as we fight this virus because of all the changes we have implemented," Mr. Nogueira said in an interview.
JBS Seeing Enormous Volatility in US Operations -- Market Talk
0909 ET - Brazilian meat packer JBS SA is seeing "enormous" volatility in prices of raw materials and other costs and of final products in its US operation because of the coronavirus outbreak there, JBS USA CEO André Nogueira says in a conference call. That volatility makes it difficult to make any forecasts regarding the second quarter, he said. The company reported a first quarter net loss of 5.9 billion reais Thursday evening, and said it would have had a profit except the value of its dollar-denominated debt jumped when converted to reais because of the sharp decline in the value of the Brazilian currency. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
STORIES OF INTEREST
ConAgra Retail Sales Keep Rising Amid Pandemic -- Market Talk
0851 ET - ConAgra's sales at the retail level continue to surge as Americans cook at home and fill their pantries amid the coronavirus pandemic. The maker of Chef Boyardee pastas and Healthy Choice frozen meals says retail sales of its products rose 37.2% in the 10 weeks ended May 3. Sales of consumer staples in its grocery and refrigerated business soared 53.5%, ConAgra says, citing data from research firm IRI. Sales of frozen single and multi-serve meals jumped 27.1% for the first 10 weeks of the 4Q, while retail snacks sales rose 20.4%. ConAgra also reaffirms its FY20 guidance. ConAgra shares rise 1.3% premarket. (email@example.com)
Caterers Face Upheaval as Coronavirus Chaos Bites -- Market Talk
1433 GMT - The catering industry is facing a structural 're-set' as economies worsen and joblessness rises following coronavirus disruption, says J.P. Morgan, cutting its recommendations on several sector players. The bank expects the pandemic to lead to more working from home, affecting office and factory-canteen operations, as well as higher costs from tighter health standards. "The combination should reset revenue and profitability levels more and for longer than the market assumes," says analyst Estelle Weingrod. "We hence downgrade the sector, moving Compass to under-weight from overweight (price target 1150 pence, 10% downside potential), Sodexo to under-weight from neutral (PT EUR55, 14% downside potential) and Elior to neutral from over-weight (PT EUR6.50)." (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Livestock Futures Mixed As Volatility Eases -- Market Talk
14:58 ET - Livestock futures on the CME closed mixed -- with lean hog futures down 1.5% to 57.875 cents per pound, while live cattle futures closed up 3.1% to 97 cents per pound. Hog processing facilities have reopened following outbreaks of coronavirus faster than their beef counterparts. This has been reflected on futures movement Friday. Even so, this week has been far less volatile than prior weeks for livestock, suggesting that gradual regional reopening across the country is underpinning prices, as consumers seek to take advantage of warm weather. (email@example.com; @kirkmaltais)
Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - May 15
Source: USDA, based on Wall Street Journal calculations
All figures are on a per-head basis.
Date Standard Margin Estimated margin
Operating Index at vertically -
May 15 +$151.15 +$103.08
May 14 +$159.36 +$110.28
May 13 +$166.35 +$116.71
* 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.
This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite
values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices.
For Today Choice 197.8
(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 201.6
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports
Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday fell $16.60 per hundred pounds, to $434.32, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell $18.34 per hundred pounds, to $419.06. The total load count was 125. Wholesale pork prices fell $3.35, to $109.68 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.