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Animal protein markets on a COVID-19 roller coaster

CoBank’s latest quarterly report illustrates the metaphorical roller coaster animal protein markets have seen since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“At this point, we are probably towards the bottom of the roller coaster which is really impacting prices to the negative.”

Will Sawyer, lead economist for animal protein, tells Brownfield things are rapidly changing but one factor has remained across the sector.

“The closer you are to the retail meat case, the better you have fared in the last month. That is something that I think is driven by the significant mass shift in consumer food spending.”

He says for the third week in March the US saw a doubling of retail meat sales compared to 2019. But, on the other hand demand from restaurants and hotels have diminished.

“Today we estimate that about half of food service sales for the beef sector have declined, if not disappeared.”

To highlight the ups and downs, Sawyer says live cattle futures have declined over 30% in the last month; Weekly exports for pork reached an all-time high in March; And poultry breast meat prices climbed significantly through mid-March and have now landed back to where they started in February.

Interview with Will Sawyer

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