Egg Industry News

Free Pregnancy & B-24 Webinar: 1.0 CEU—December 8th


For the first time, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report includes dietary guidance for women who are pregnant and birth to 24 months of age, highlighting the importance of optimal nutrition during these life stages. Join us for a free live webinar with Mickey Rubin, PhD as he explains the latest research behind these important recommendations and Liz Shaw, MS, RDN, CPT as she provides clear, practical ideas for educating and implementing the dietary guidance from the Scientific Report. 


Kroger Reports on Q3


In a press release dated November 3rd The Kroger Company (KR) announced results for the third quarter of FY 2020 ending November 7th.     


The following table summarizes the results for the period compared with the values for the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year (Values expressed as US$ x 1,000 except EPS)

Rodney McMullen


3rd Quarter Ending

November 7th 2020

November 9th 2019

Difference (%)





Gross profit:




Operating income:             




Pre-tax Income

Net Income







Diluted earnings per share:




Gross Margin (%)




Operating Margin (%)




Profit Margin (%)




Long-term Debt:




12 Months Trailing:




           Return on Assets    (%)




           Return on Equity    (%)




           Operating Margin   (%)




           Profit Margin          (%)




Total Assets




Market Capitalization




Notes: 1. +$162 million investment income.    2. $(120 million) from non-controlling interest


Same store Sales growth (ex. Fuel) 1.9 percent; 2.5 percent Q3 2019.


52-Week Range in Share Price:  $26.25 to $ 37.22       50-day Moving average  $32.63

Market Close December 2nd $32.29 pre-release. 

Market Noon, December 3rd $30.71. Down 4.9 percent based on a revenue miss against consensus.

Forward P/E  12.2         Beta 0.3

In commenting on results CEO Rodney McMullin stated, "our Kroger family of associates have been nothing short of incredible during the pandemic and they continue to inspire me every day. I am proud of our dedicated associates who continued to diligently execute our Restock Kroger transformation while serving our customers when they need us most.


The strong underlying momentum in our core supermarket business and acceleration in the growth of our alternative profit business demonstrates we are successfully transforming our business model to deliver consistently strong and attractive total shareholder return in 2020 and beyond."


Management provided guidance for FY 2020 of 14 percent same-store sales growth, EPS of $3.3 to $3.50 and operating profit of $4.0 to $4.1 Billion.




Sad Passing of Gene Gregory


Gene Gregory, previously the president of the United Egg Producers passed on December 3rd after an extended illness. He retired from the UEP in 2012 after a distinguished and constructive 50-year career in the U.S. poultry industry, with over 20 years devoted to the organization.


A detailed obituary will be posted in the next edition of EGG-NEWS celebrating his many accomplishments that advanced the wellbeing of producers, marked by pivotal innovations in welfare, egg safety, marketing and Congressional liaison.


We extend our condolences to Linda, Chad and the Gregory Family.

The Late Gene Gregory


Egg Week


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, December 3rd 2020.


  • The U.S. flock in production was up 0.4 million from the previous week to 323.0 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets reaching maturity in anticipation of increased December demand that is not materializing.
  • Shell inventory was up 5.8 percent after a 12.2 percent decrease last week, representing a reverse from three sequential weekly declines despite a progressively larger producing flock. This indicates an imbalance between demand and supply with implications for prices extending into the pre-Christmas period given projections of seasonal increases in supply. There is now little evidence of a return in the food service sector as liquid and dried egg prices firm and the economy cautiously reopens but the incidence rate of COVID-19 is increasing sharply in many regions suggesting more restrictions.
  • The USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium sizes were approximately eight percent down from the previous week at 94.5, 92.5 and 79.5 cents per dozen respectively. For the past two weeks Midwest prices were markedly lagging corresponding weeks in 2019 and the 3-year average. Prices will continue to fall if there is no increase in seasonal demand given molted hens resuming production and pullets commencing lay.
  • The Midwest price of breaking stock was down 21.5 percent to an average of 51.0 cents per dozen. Checks in the Midwest were down 15.4 percent to an average of 49.5 cents per dozen.





According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports circulated on November 30th 2020 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium sizes were down 7.8; 7.9 and 8.1 percent respectively from the previous week as delivered to DCs, attaining averages of 94.5, 92.5 and 79.5cents per dozen. Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 5-Region blended nest-run, (excluding provisions for packing and transport) cost of 64.6 cents per dozen in October 2020. The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


The November 30th 2020 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 48) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $1.10 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending November 25th. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $1.01 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $1.16 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was about 45 cents per dozen below the 3-year average and approximately 45 cents per dozen below the corresponding week in 2019.


Economic Impact of U.S. Egg Industry


In a December 2nd release the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) and United Egg Producers released an updated economic impact study that highlights the positive impact the egg industry has on jobs, wages, and federal and state revenue in the United States. The revised study updated data from 2019 and confirms that the egg industry provides 119,080 jobs, $6.7 billion in wages, $34.7 billion in economic activity and $2.5 billion in government revenue.


“We are pleased to continue providing this valuable tool across the industry that shows the positive economic impact the poultry industry has on our nation and communities,” said John Starkey, president of USPOULTRY.


The data is hosted on interactive websites that can be viewed collectively or by individual product, and then sorted nationally by state, congressional district, state house district or state senate district, and county. For more information about the U.S. poultry industry’s economic impact, visit

John Starkey


Brazil to Receive Soybeans from the U.S.


Given the volume and proportion of domestic soybeans exported by Brazil to China, it is not surprising that the World’s largest producer intends importing up to one million metric tons of the commodity during December.  The first shipment of 30,000 metric tons from the U.S. will be landed at the port of Paranaguá on the Discoverer, chartered by the Louis Dreyfus Company.


The shipment was facilitated by a waiver in import duties effective October 16th and establishing equivalence in GMO regulations between the U.S. and Brazil.


USPOULTRY Awards Student Recruiting Grants Totaling $275,663


The six U.S. universities with poultry science departments and twenty other Land-Grant and other institutions with relevant programs shared $275,663 to recruit students for industry-related studies.  The six major grants ranged from $24,000 to $31,000 and were made possible by funding from family foundations and production companies.


In commenting on the recruitment grants, John Prestage noted, "it is extremely important that we interest bright young people to study careers in the poultry industry".  He added, "we need sharp young managers to join our companies as they will be the future leaders of our industry".


AEB Publishes Nielsen Statistics for October 2020


The American Egg Board published Nielsen data reflecting 2020 year-to-date (YTD) sales and consumption for the week ending October 31st 2020. 


  • For YTD 2020, retail sales expressed as egg equivalents increased 8.8 percent over 2019.  Dollar value was 20.1 percent higher than in 2019.  Per capita consumption advanced to 284.8 eggs representing a 3.0 percent decline over 2019.


  • Year-to-date retail egg sales attained 3.23 billion egg equivalent dozens representing a 7.2 percent increase in volume and 15.6 percent in dollar value.  Egg alternatives including liquid, frozen and powdered egg products converted to equivalent dozens attained 88.41 million a 5.2 percent increase over 2019 and an almost even 5.6 percent increase in dollar value.  Year-to-date, hard boiled egg sales attained 27.7 million dozen equivalents amounting to a 13.2 percent decline in volume and an 11.5 percent decline in value.


  • In classifying retail sales by product segment, conventional eggs represented 85.8 percent, cage-free 11.4 percent and organic 2.7 percent.  Year to date conventional eggs increased 7.2 percent in volume and 20 in value.  Cage-free eggs increased 20.0 percent in volume and were almost equivalent at 19.7 percent in value.  Organic eggs increased 18.2 percent in volume and 22.7 percent in value.


  • With a respect to volume of other than generic shell eggs, YTD branded eggs comprised 29.0 percent of retail sales compared to 71 percent for private label.  Branded eggs generated 42.0 percent of dollar value compared to private label at 58.0 percent.  Branded eggs increased by 15.0 percent in volume and 24.6 percent in value.


  • In analyzing retail channels, YTD compared to 2019, supermarkets and groceries increased by 7.4 percent, drugstores declined by 3.3 percent, convenience stores were up by 2.5 percent and the combination of club stores and dollar stores increased by 11.6 percent presumably with the largest contribution from big-box clubs.


In reviewing current USDA data there are 63 million hens producing cage-free eggs, excluding non-confined hens under the Certified Organic program. This complement of hens represents 28 percent of an assumed population of 225 million hens in the shell egg segment of production. If USDA data on hens under cage-free housing (aviaries and barns) are accurate and accepting the Nielsen data indicating a sales proportion of 11.4 percent for this category, more than half of cage-free eggs are down-marketed. If the Nielsen data is accurate the situation with Certified Organic is even more extreme with 7.6 percent of 225 million hens producing under the category but representing 2.7 percent of shell egg sales YTD. The differences between potential production and recorded sales cannot be ascribed to use of cage-free and organic eggs in egg liquids. The nominal (pre-COVID) complement of hens producing eggs for the breaking segment is estimated at  95 million, predominantly as generics.


AGR Partners Exits Opal Foods


In a November 28th release, AGR Partners announced that their share in Opal Foods has been sold to co-owners Rose Acre Farms and Weaver Brothers Inc.


In commenting on the change in equity participation, Tim Weaver noted “Opal Foods experienced tremendous growth over the past six years.  We appreciate the assistance of AGR in helping us achieve growth in the industry as our family did not operate outside our region prior to our partnership.”


Ejnar Knudsen, CEO of AGR Partners, noted “Our goal is to invest in family businesses and identify strategic opportunities.  The Weaver and Rust families have been great partners over the past seven years and we are delighted to sell our shares to these two family-led businesses.”


Knudsen is optimistic over the future of the egg industry and observed that Opal Foods is better positioned than most with its geographic spread and a significant specialty and cage-free asset base.


Opal Foods operates facilities in Missouri, Colorado, and Iowa with headquarters in Neosho, MO.


Government of Canada to Compensate Egg Farmers for Possible Losses from USMCA


The Government of Canada has announced a program in which US$508 million will be distributed to egg producers over a 10-year period.  The recipients will include 4,800 producers of table eggs, broiler hatching eggs with an allotment for turkey farmers.  It is intended that the program will enhance innovation and in these sectors. 


The grants will be provided as compensation for apparent losses sustained by farmers as a result of the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).  Dairy farmers will receive US$1.3 billion over an eight year period.  It is estimated that US$250 million was distributed to dairy farmers at the end of 2019 with 10,000 producers receiving cash payments.

Canadian Minister of Agrifood

Marie-Claire Bibeau


In the November 28th announcement, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri Food, stated “Our government is fully behind our supply management sector, thats supports our family farms and the vitality of our rural areas.  Today’s announcement of a substantial compensation package for our dairy, poultry, and egg farmers and shows our support for a strong supply management sector for many generations to come.”


Large Egg Production Farm in Poland Infected with H5N8 Avian Influenza


According to a posting on ProMED Mail, Dr. Bogdan Konopka, Chief Veterinary Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Poland, notified the World Organization for Animal Health of an outbreak of H5N8 avian influenza, reported on November 23rd and confirmed the following day.  The outbreak occurred near Wronlawy in the Province of Wielkopolskie.  Wronlawy is approximately 50 miles east of the border with Germany.  The farm held 924,000 hens, of which 119,000 died with the remainder depopulated.

The official report did not provide a source of the outbreak, but is presumed to be from migratory waterfowl consistent with concurrent outbreaks in eastern and western Europe.  During 2020, a number of outbreaks have been reported by Poland with increasing frequency.

Wolsztyn location of HPAI outbreak


Welcome to Vaxxinova U.S. as Sponsor


Vaxxinova International BV is a producer of specialist vaccines and is part of the family-owned EW Group. The company is a multinational, operating according to the principle of “business without borders”. Vaxxinova traces its origin to the manufacture of autogenous vaccines in Germany in 1960 as part of the Lohmann Group in Cuxhaven. The Vaxxinova Group was formed in 2010 and the administration of the company relocated from Germany to the Netherlands in 2016.  Research and development in vaccines and diagnostics is now conducted in ten nations on four continents. Vaxxinova has a commercial presence in the U.S., the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Jordan and Thailand.


Epitopix established by the Willmar Poultry Group in 2002 joined Vaxxinova by acquisition in 2018.  At this time Dr. Jim Sandstrom, managing director of Epitopix commented, “Now we will have the ability to fly with the experience of an international team to guide us and new resources under our wings.”  Victor van Solinge, CEO of Vaxxinova stated that the transaction was beneficial for the global veterinary industry based on the specific SRP® technology developed by Epitopix.

Dr Jim Sandstrom


The term SRP refers to Siderophore Receptors and Porins, proteins extracted from bacteria to form the basis of highly effective vaccines.  Pathogenic bacteria require iron for growth and survival and accordingly have developed porins that function as protein systems to acquire elemental iron and transport the nutrient through cell walls.  Siderophore receptors that can carry iron are located on the outer surface of bacteria and are highly specific antigens, often shared in common among related bacterial pathogens. Porins also function as immunoregulators with specific activity on T and B cells simulating the synthesis of cytokines and activating intracellular signaling pathways. Epitopix has developed unique extraction techniques to harvest SRP proteins on a commercial scale. These are purified, concentrated and incorporated in highly effective vaccines containing adjuvants and an oil carrier in the form of a stable emulsion.  SRP® technology is unique to Epitopix and is protected by a series of U.S. and international patents, both granted and pending.


Vaxxinova markets the following vaccines for poultry in the U.S. :-


  • Vaxxon® SRP® SE – This bacterial extract vaccine is administered to pullets to stimulate humoral and cell-mediated immunity against Salmonella Enteritidis including colonization of the ovary and oviduct.  Field experience has often demonstrated a reduced risk of oil-induced vaccine reaction compared to whole-cell bacterins.


  • E. coli SRP® – Vaxxinova creates autogenous E.coli SRP® bacterial extracts by screening multiple strains of pathogenic E.coli (APECs) to produce an SRP® extract in accordance with USDA-approved protocols.  Autogenous SRP® vaccines can be developed with a range of adjuvants, pathogen combinations and dose volume.


  • Pasteurella SRP® – Vaxxinova produces autogenous SRP® Pasteurella vaccines based on isolates derived from flocks or complexes experiencing cholera.  Originally developed in the 1990’s for breeder turkeys, autogenous SRP® Pasteurella vaccine is widely used in broiler breeder hens and cage-free egg production flocks.


  • Salmonella SRP® - Vaxxinova can produce autogenous Salmonella SRP® vaccines or conventional whole cell bacterins containing serotypes specific to the range of challenge on a complex.  Serotypes may include Heidelberg, Kentucky, Enteritidis, Hadar or Oranienberg, for example.  Vaxxinova autogenous vaccines can be prepared with custom formulation for diverse adjuvants, dose volumes and combinations of serotypes.


Vaxxinova subscribes to close cooperation with local professionals, establishing relationships with veterinarians, animal health professionals and research institutes to prevent diseases of livestock and to reduce the use of antibiotics, contributing to enhanced food safety and profitability. 


For further information access the Vaxxinova website by clicking onto the company logo on the right side of the welcome page.  Additional contacts are (844) 777-8299 or the Administration and R&D center, 1801 Biotech Ave., NE Willmar, MN 56201.


Royal Pas Reform Appoints Paul Smits as CEO


Paul Smits has been appointed CEO of Royal Pas Reform.  He is currently Vice President and Managing Director of the Instruments and Controls Group of CTB, which incorporates Fancom BV.


Smits earned a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Twente University in Enschede, The Netherlands.  Smits has more than 25 years experience in developing technology for the poultry industry. 


In commenting on his appointment, he stated “I am very much looking forward to working with Royal Pas Reform and using my skills to help drive this dynamic hard-working company to further extend its strong global presence.”


Unilever Acquires SmartyPants® Vitamin Company


As a further confirmation of multinationals moving towards health in their portfolios, Unilever has purchased Los Angeles-based SmartyPants® vitamins.  Founded in 2011 by Courtney and Gordon Gould, the company has established a reputation for ‘natural’ products.  The SmartyPants® range claims sustainability, freedom from synthetic colors, flavors and preservatives and emphasizes non-GMO origin. Among other claims, SmartyPants® vitamins has partnered with Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organization to provide supplements for expectant mothers in need.


Peter Ter Kulve, President of Health and Well Being at Unilever stated that their acquisition "compliments Unilever’s portfolio of brands in the functional nutrition and supplements segment". 


The SmartyPants® brand joins Horlicks and Health Care Nutrition Products acquired from GlaxoSmithKline.


FDA Authorizes Monoclonal Antibody Therapy for COVID-19


In a November 21st release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved administration of a combination of two monoclonal antibodies developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.  The combination comprising casirivimab and imdevimab targets the receptor-binding site for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19.  This combination of monoclonal therapeutic agents is now authorized for non-hospitalized patients over twelve years in age.  It is anticipated that Regeneron will be able to supply a sufficient quantity of the two compounds to treat 80,000 patients during early December and up to 300,000 by the end of January 2021.  Roche Pharmaceuticals will be responsible for production of the Regeneron monoclonal antibodies.


According to the FDA release, a structured clinical trial was carried out at a number of participating centers involving 799 non-hospitalized adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.  Of this cohort, 266 received a single intravenous infusion of 2,400 milligrams of the combination, 267 received 8,000 mg of the combination and 266 received a placebo.  All participants were confirmed positive applying an approved SARS-CoV-2 viral assay.


For patients at high risk for disease progression, hospitalizations and ER care, three percent of the recipients of the combination required hospitalization compared to nine percent in the placebo group.  There was no difference in viral load or frequency of ER visits between subjects treated with the monoclonal antibody combination and the controls.


The emergency use authorization extended to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals includes dosing instructions, an obligation to record potential side effects and drug interactions and the statutory restraints associated with Emergency Use Authorization.


Wearing Masks Reduces COVID Incidence Rates


In the November 27th Mobility and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC epidemiologists confirmed the value of wearing masks based on a study conducted in Kansas from June through late August.  On July 3rd, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (R), issued an executive order requiring face masks in public with the proviso that individual counties could opt out of the mandate.  COVID incidence rates in the twenty-four counties complying with the Gubernatorial order were compared with eighty-one non-mandated counties.  The seven-day rolling average number of new cases per 100,000 population (seven-day incidence) was compared for the periods prior to and subsequent to the mandate for the twenty-four compliant counties. There was a reduction of six cases per 100,000 population for the period August 17th-23rd compared to July 3rd-9th coinciding with the mandate.  In contrast in the eighty-one non-mandated counties, the incidence rate increased by 100 per 100,000 for the comparable period.


The authors concluded that the county-wide mask mandate contributed to a significant reduction in levels of COVID-19 transmission.  The CDC reiterates the use of masks in public, physical distancing, self-confinement when ill and avoiding congregation in large groups as practical measures to reduce COVID-19 incidence rates.


*Van Dyke, M. et al.  Trends in county-level COVID-19 incidence in counties with or without a mask mandate-Kansas, June 1st-August 23rd 2020 MMWR 69:177(2020)


STEC Outbreaks Under Investigation-Leafy Greens Suspected


In an investigation notice issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted November 23rd, the Agency is actively investigating an outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 outbreak.  Since October 28th, 16 cases were added to the investigation with  acurrent total of 30 confirmed patients.  The cases involve three outbreaks in 18 states.


As yet no specific vehicle of infection has been identified, although a high proportion of the patients interviewed recollect consuming romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, bagged lettuce or spinach.  Based on the lack of specific information, the CDC is not advising consumers to avoid any particular food or brand at this time.  Of 30 documented cases, 19 required hospitalization and four developed hemolytic uremia syndrome.  Cases ranged from one to 85 years in age with 62 percent female. 


On Saturday, November 21st Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. recalled branded three-pack organic romaine hearts in addition to Wild Harvest organic romaine hearts.  According to the company the recall relates to possible health risks from E.coli identified on the two products that were harvested and packed four weeks ago and distributed among 15 states.  The recall was triggered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development after identifying E.coli on a routine sample collected at retail, although this isolate was characterized as non-O157:H7 serotype.


People infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, by date of illness onset*


Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Data is Promising


Following initial skepticism over the speed at which the Gameleya Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology developed the "Sputnik V" vaccine, new data released in the form of a press release, claims 92 percent efficacy in a trial involving 18,000 subjects.  The initial report in October based on a group of twenty recipients was greeted with scientific incredulity in early November but results of the larger trial should soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal. 


The Russian vaccine uses simian adenovirus vectors to deliver a gene coding for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.  The first dose comprises an Ad26 vector followed by a booster twenty-one days later with an Ad5 vector.  The purpose of using two separate vectors is to prevent antibody response from the first vaccination interfering with the booster. 


The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine uses a single simian adenovirus Ad5 as a vector.  This vaccine had an average efficacy of 70 percent but when, inadvertently, a subgroup of volunteers received a half-dose of the first vaccine followed by a full dose of the second vaccine, 90 percent protection was apparently achieved. Although no explanation for the discrepancy has been provided by AstraZeneca it is possible that developers in Russia anticipated the problem of antibody resistance to the booster dose, hence selection of an alternative adenovirus vector.

Russian Sputnik -5 two-dose COVID vaccine

The claim of 90 percent protection for the Sputnik V vaccine is based on thirty-nine cases with eight among the vaccinated group and thirty-one in the volunteers in the control group receiving the placebo. This group comprised 25 percent of the approximately 18,000 in the trial.  A subsequent analysis will be carried out when seventy-eight confirmed COVID cases are diagnosed.  The trial will soon be expanded by recruitment of up to 40,000 participants.


The adenovirus-vectored vaccines are stable at refrigeration temperature and are relatively inexpensive to produce and distribute.  Russia has already capitalized on their product, offering it to developing nations as a goodwill gesture.  Partners of the Gamaleya Center will produce the vaccine in India, South Korea and Brazil under a license that will result in a cost of under $10 per dose.  The combined output of nations producing the vaccine could attain one billion doses through 2021.


WEEKLY COMMODITY REPORT: November 27th 2020.


  • The financial and economic uncertainties of a Biden-Harris Administration and the escalating COVID-19 pandemic continue but these factors appear to have had little influence on the commodity market this past week as society struggles to return to a “new normal”. The direction of agricultural and trade policy to be implemented in 2021 will emerge following the nomination of Cabinet members and their subordinates relevant to agriculture.


  • S producers are now receiving and conversely livestock producers are paying over $4 per bushel for corn and $12 per bushel for soybeans.


  • Commodity prices this past week were moderately higher, adding to increases recorded last week. Factors influencing prices included a decline in export orders, lower projections for 2020 crop yields, ending stocks, and the November 10th WASDE Report. Corn showed a 0.7 percent rise for the week with daily fluctuation on prospects of additional orders from China and modest shipments to Mexico and S. Korea. Soybeans were up 1.1 percent in price this week mainly due to orders booked by China and other nations and projected lower ending stocks following a downward revision of yield and associated factors. Soybean meal rose 0.8 percent disproportionately lower than the rise in the price of soybeans.


  • Since July 10th year-to-date exports and 2020/2021 market-year orders for corn have attained 9.39 million metric tons (370.0 million bushels). Orders for soybeans amounted to 19.5 million tons (716.0 million bushels) accelerating during September and October. USDA did not report on any significant sales of corn and soybeans this past week. Some soybean orders may be ‘washed’ due to declining crush margins in China.


  • Prospects for commodity exports to China during the 2020/2021 market year that began on September 1st for corn and soybeans apparently improved in October. China adjusted their domestic short-term demand for soybeans as a result of an apparent increase in the hog population after severe losses in 2019 and early 2020 from African swine fever. White-feathered chicken production has now recovered after COVID disruptions and on QSR demand. China is also taking advantage of shipping rates that are fluctuating sharply in order to build inventory. The Baltic Dry Index tracking the three categories of vessels that was 1,860 in mid-October 2019, fell to 504 in late May 2020 and is now at 1,129 having fallen 0.4 percent from the value last week to the lowest level since mid-June.


The following quotations for delivery in the months as indicated were posted by the CME shortly before the close of trading on November 27th compared with values posted on November 20th (in parentheses) reflecting specified months for delivery.




Corn (cents per bushel)

 Dec. 426 (423)

March ‘21 435 (428)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

 Jan. ’21 1,193 (1,181)

March ’21 1,195 (1,182)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

 Dec. 398 (395)

March ‘21 396 (390)

Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal over four trading days this past week were:-



Ninth Outbreak of HPAI in Japan


Federal officials in Japan have announced an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, presumed to be H5N8, near Munakuta City in the Fukuoka Prefecture located on the Island of Kyushu, the southernmost in the Japan Archipelago.  The outbreak involved a farm with 94,000 layers all of which have been depopulated.


News reports indicated a "spread" of HPAI from the previous outbreak in Kagawa Prefecture.  This is probably an incorrect assertion. The Fukuoka outbreak is in all probability independent and resulted from direct or indirect contact with migratory waterfowl that are moving in a northeast direction.  Fukuoka and Kagawa Prefectures are separated by about two hundred miles.


Nestle Divests Yinlu Business in China


Food Wise Company has acquired the Yinlu business of Nestle in China in a transaction valued at $390 million.  Nestle will continue to market coffee, but products will be manufactured by the five Yinlu production facilities in China and this Company will remain a licensee of Nestle.  Yinlu processes and distributes peanut milk and rice porridge, both popular items in China. 


Currently Nestle posts revenue of $8 billion annually in China and will retain a commitment to the Nation. The divestment of Yinlu will allow Nestle to concentrate on the Nescafe brand, infant nutrition, dairy products and pet care.



Indictment of Paul Kruse Subject to Legal Challenge


Before the scheduled trial of Paul Kruse, previously CEO of Blue Bell Creamery begins in June 2021, his defense is claiming in pre-trial motions that the statute of limitations had expired prior to the indictments and the invalidity of the grand jury proceedings.  Kruse stands accused of conspiracy and fraud having had a previous case dismissed in July 2020 on a technicality.


The case arises from an outbreak of listeriosis that led to a voluntary recall of all Bluebell products in April 2015 and closure of production facilities in four states. In May 2020, Blue Bell pleaded guilty to various counts of violation of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and paid criminal penalties of $17.5 million in addition to $2.1 million to resolve False Claims Act violations.

Paul Kruse

This case is important as it demonstrates that the Department of Justice will indict senior management of companies responsible for foodborne outbreaks if there is evidence of deception, negligence, concealment of laboratory data or knowingly distributing contaminated or adulterated products.  The Parnell brothers are currently in federal prison serving long sentences for their respective roles in the Peanut Corporation of America case.


Previous posts on this topic can be retrieved by entering “Blue Bell” in the SEARCH block.


Post Holdings Reports on Q4 and Fiscal 2020


On November 19th Post Holdings (POST) reported results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2020 ending September 30th.  Post Holdings operates Michael Foods, results of which are included in the Food Service segment of the company.


For the fourth quarter, Post Holdings generated net earnings of $57 million on revenue of $1,411 million with an EPS of $0.83.  For the corresponding fourth quarter of 2019, Post Holdings recorded a loss of $(61.1 million) on net sales of $1,443 million and an EPS of $(0.84).


The Food Service segment, comprising egg and potato products attained sales of $320.5 million, down 23 percent in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2019.  The reduction in sales was attributed to a corresponding 23 percent decline in volume. This was in large measure attributed to COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants that seriously impacted the Food service channel.  Egg volume declined 22.6 percent, slightly less than potato volume.  The Food Service segment lost $4.9 million compared to a positive contribution of $49.6 million in Q4 of 2019.  Contribution was negatively impacted by reduced volume and lower net pricing due to an unfavorable product mix and lower market pricing, compounded by price reductions to move excess and short-dated inventory.


For fiscal 2020, the Food Service segment attained sales of $1,362 million, 16 percent less than in fiscal 2019.  The segment generated a positive contribution of $25.6 million compared to $198 million in FY 2019.


Walmart Reopening Four Chicago Supercenters With Upgrades


Following temporary closure due to civil unrest, Walmart has announced reopening of four Supercenters with two in the Chatham and Austin areas of Chicago.  Two of the refurbished locations include upgraded Walmart health centers as part of the company commitment to the communities in which they are located.  Walmart academies will also be incorporated into the four Supercenters in the Chicago area to offer training for associates. Upgrades to the four stores include installations that reduce the probability of transmission of COVID-19 including expanded pickup and delivery options and contactless checkout.

Vandalized and Looted Walmart Store


The Walmart Health locations in two of the Supercenters provide primary care, x-ray and diagnostics, counseling, dental and hearing services with transparent pricing. Marcus Osborne, Senior Vice-president of Walmart Health stated, “We are committed to making healthcare more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities we serve. He added, “We think we can make an impactful difference and look forward to continue to learn how best to deliver the integrated quality care customers want and deserve.” Walmart is upgrading community involvement and actively soliciting comments and suggestions from customers in their areas of operation. The stores are collectively donating $80,000 to local churches and child-care centers.


Virginia Egg Farmers Thank Hospital Workers


The Virginia Egg Council delivered a special lunch to COVID-19 caregivers at UVA Children’s Hospital as a thank-you from Virginia's egg farmers. It  was the fourth of five planned thank-you lunches featuring   #Weggsday egg salad sandwiches for over 500 caregivers in four Virginia hospitals through early December.


Schools Provide Homes With Special Egg Meals


Leading up to Thanksgiving, schools distributed home food packages

and served special meals, all featuring eggs. 


  • Classic meal kits for students in the Burlington School District in

Vermont included egg patties and English muffins to make breakfast sandwiches.     

  • Bulk breakfast and lunch items for students in the Newburgh Enlarged

School District in New York included half a dozen eggs.   

  • New York City students were treated to egg salad sandwiches for lunch.  
  • Brunch for lunch is in the top-five favorites among students in the

Humboldt Unified School District in Arizona. And the Big Breakfast Sandwich of egg patty, sausage and

cheese on a pretzel roll didn’t disappoint.  

  • Cheese omelets, a perennial favorite among students, spread smiles

in Wisconsin Rapids, WI.   

  • A better-for-you baked good made on site with eggs — Zucchini and

Kale Bread — was served as dessert at a Feast Meal at Mansfield Public Schools in Connecticut. 


Egg Week


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 26th 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was seasonally up 3.8 million from the previous week to 322.6 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets reaching maturity in anticipation of December demand.
  • Shell inventory was down a noteworthy 12.2 percent after a 2.0 percent decrease last week, representing the third sequential weekly decline despite a progressively larger producing flock. This indicates a balance between demand and supply with implications for prices going forward even with the sharp increase in supply. There is some evidence of a return in the food service sector as liquid and dried egg prices firm and the economy cautiously reopens but the incidence rate of COVID-19 is increasing sharply in many regions suggesting more restrictions.
  • The USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium sizes were unchanged from the previous week at 102.5, 100.5 and 86.5 cents per dozen respectively. As of last week Midwest prices were markedly lagging corresponding weeks in 2019 and the 3-year average. Prices should continue to rise with seasonal demand despite molted hens resuming production and pullets commencing lay. An increase in shell egg and liquid demand should be evident moving into the last month of 2020.
  • The Midwest price of breaking stock was down 7.1 percent to an average of 65 cents per dozen. Checks in the Midwest were down 6.4 percent to an average of 58.5 cents per dozen.




According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports circulated on November 23rd 2020 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium sizes were unchanged from the previous week as delivered to DCs attaining averages of 102.5, 101.5 and 86.5 respectively. Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 5-Region blended nest-run, (excluding provisions for packing and transport) cost of 64.6 cents per dozen in October 2020. The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


The November 23rd 2020 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 47) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $1.10 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending November 18th. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $1.01 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $1.16 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was about 40 cents per dozen below the 3-year average and approximately 40 cents per dozen below the corresponding week in 2019.


Flock Size

According to the USDA the number of producing hens this past week (rounded to 0.1 million) was up 3.8 million to 322.6 million. If USDA data is accurate, the producing flock contains molted hens coming back into production with approximately 6.0 million pullets reaching maturity during the week offset by flock depletion. The hen population producing eggs is now almost in balance relative to seasonal consumer demand but is depressed by lower industrial and food service off-take. Any number above 320 million hens in production during late fall at the outset of the holiday buying surge portends lower than average prices and increased inventory, unless matched by proportional increases in demand.


The total U.S. egg-flock was up 0.6 million to 326.5 million hens including second-cycle birds and those in molt. The difference of 3.9 million hens (7.1 million last week) between hens in production and total hens is equivalent to 1.2 percent of the national flock. This means that as molted hens have come back in production and young pullets commenced laying in anticipation of pre-Christmas demand, maximum production is now available from current housing. The EIC model predicted a flock size of 326 million hens in December and will probably be exceeded. The obvious reduction in hen numbers in Iowa and to a lesser extent among the next three largest producing states that commenced following the onset of COVID-19 in February is reverting to pre-COVID numbers in anticipation of the holiday period. Chick placement data suggests that 25 million pullets commenced production in November. This has implications for prices, given current supply and higher stock levels in relation to seasonal demand.


Denmark Diagnoses HPAI in Layer Flock


According to USDA-GAIN report DA2020-0015 released on November 19th, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration reported an outbreak of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza in a flock of 25,000 commercial layers.  The farm is located near the city of Randers on the Island of East Jutland.


As with a number of outbreaks in Western Europe, H5N85N8 AI virus was isolated from a wild bird, in this case a peregrine falcon, prior to a commercial outbreak.  It is presumed that the falcon was infected through contact with migratory waterfowl or other free-living birds.  On November 10th poultry producers in Denmark were advised to confine their flocks.


The infected commercial flock was depleted, and surveillance was initiated in accordance with the requirements of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). 


It is anticipated that nations importing poultry products from Denmark will impose embargoes that may involve the affected region or depending on policy, the entire exporting nation.  Denmark is a supplier of processed chicken to the Republic of South Africa, South Korea and Singapore in addition to neighboring EU nations.


Sweden Reports HPAI in a Turkey Flock


Following outbreaks of H5N8 avian influenza in Germany, The Netherlands, U.K., and Denmark, Sweden has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a flock of turkeys in the region of Skane.  A representative of the Department of Agriculture in confirming the case noted that surveillance is underway and that further cases may be detected.


The epidemiologic pattern during the late fall of 2020 has been a pattern of recovery of H5N8 virus from dead and living migratory waterfowl or raptors followed by sporadic outbreaks in non-confined poultry.  Based on previous episodes of highly pathogenic avian influenza in recent years, authorities have justifiably established surveillance programs. Following detection of avian influenza farmers have been advised to confine flocks to prevent contact between migratory birds that are reservoirs  of the the virus and susceptible commercial flocks.



Japan Facing Escalating HPAI Loses in Kagawa Prefecture


The sixth and seventh farms in Kagawa Prefecture confirmed to have been infected with an H5 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus have undergone depletion.  Collectively the two units housed 850,000 birds.  The farms, which are in close proximity, are adjacent to Mitoyo City.  Authorities previously advised farmers to report any indication of elevated mortality resulting in the diagnoses.


As reported previously in EGG-NEWS, Kagawa Prefecture is at seasonal risk for avian influenza as it is located on a major flyway with wetlands that attract migratory waterfowl serving as reservoirs of avian influenza.


Previous outbreaks of avian influenza occurred in the Prefecture during the winter of 2018.


FDA Authorizes Lucira COVID-19 Home Test Kit


The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency authorization for the Lucira COVID-19 all-in-one test kit.  The system uses loop-mediated isothermal amplification with single tube detection with a simple reader that provides a qualitative (positive/negative) readout.


The manufacturers claim a 94 percent positive predictive value and 98 percent negative predictive value compared to standard PCR.  Sensitivity and specificity data has yet to be released.


The system will be available for patients 14 years and older and will require a prescription.  Projected cost is $50 per test that is acceptable for physician's office diagnosis but too expensive for regular self-home testing.


Lucira information can be obtained from the manufacturers' website <>.



AstraZeneca- Oxford Vaccine Effective in Phase III Trial


An initial statement from AstraZeneca on their COVID-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222 indicates that data confirming efficacy would be available by late December. The Phase III trial on the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine commenced in August and was conducted in Brazil, South Africa, the UK and the U.S. Initial evaluation confirms that the vaccine was immunogenic in elderly recipients. This is considered to be an important criterion of an effective vaccine.  The preliminary report on safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine based on Phase 1/2 evaluation was published in The Lancet in July*.


Development of the vaccine commenced in January 2020 and the product is based on simian adenovirus as a vector for SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The mode of stimulating antibody is distinct from the mRNA technology used for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna products.

The UK Medicines and Health Care Products Regularity Agency (equivalent to the U.S. FDA) has initiated a review of the AstraZenaca-Oxford vaccine.  AstraZeneca proposes to produce two billion doses of AZD1222 while awaiting approval.  Of this total, four hundred million doses will be distributed in the U.S. and the UK with the remainder for low-income nations.  The vaccine was developed partly with Warp Speed funding of $1 billion.


Folegatti, P.M. et al. Safety and immunogenicity of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2: A preliminary report of a Phase 1/2, single-blind, placebo controlled trial. The July 20, 2020


Ahold Delhaize to Acquire FreshDirect


Ahold Delhaize a multinational with an extensive presence in the U.S. has announced that it will acquire Fresh Direct located in New York.  Centerbridge Partners will be a 20 percent minority investor.  It is anticipated that FreshDirect will retain its image and brand name and will now be in position to expand.  The company is unique in that fresh food represents 60 percent of sales and it deals directly with farmers to source products. In operation for over 20 years, FreshDirect has developed unique systems to provide service to consumers including rush and same-day delivery.  Ahold Delhaize is rapidly developing an omnichannel approach to grocery sales and recognizes the scalability of the FreshDirect model. 


Frans Muller, CEO of Ahold Delhaize stated, “FreshDirect is a leading local brand of the fast-growing online grocery sector in the New York City metro area.  One of the most important      E-commerce food markets in the United States.”  He continued, “It is a great addition and fit for our portfolio of leading local brands.  The deal allows us to reach additional customers in the New York trade area and therefore will add incremental sales to the business.”


Ahold Delhaize operates the Food Lion, Giant Food, Hannaford and Stop & Shop banners in the U.S.  It operates 2,000 stores in 23 states in addition to Peapod home delivery.


For the most recently completed fiscal year, comparative store sales for Ahold Delhaize in the  U.S. increased by 12 percent with 115 percent growth in online sales for the third quarter.


Major Grocery Chains Offering Additional Positions for Personal Shoppers


Walmart among the major grocery chains with omnichannel distribution is offering additional seasonal employment to personal shoppers.  On November 18th Walmart announced that it would hire 160,000 seasonal personnel to support demand for click-and-collect and ex-store delivery. 


The rapidly increasing incidence of COVID-19 has created a disinclination to shop in stores and to take advantage of special delivery offers that include features such as in-garage delivery and expedited service especially in areas with a high population density.  Walmart claim to have recently hired 20,000 seasonal associates for fulfillment centers.  Other chains are relying on seasonal hires and automation both in distribution centers and newly designated “dark stores” to provide alternatives to traditional in-store shopping.


Instacart to File for an IPO


Passage of California Proposition #22 has provided operational security for delivery services and companies making use of the “gig economy”.


Following a $200 million infusion of capital, Instacart claims a valuation of $17 billion. It is possible that the proposed Instacart IPO was stimulated by a similar move by DoorDash.  Although this company has previously specialized in deliveries from restaurants, it may enter the grocery delivery space.


Instacart has a presence in 5,500 cities and has the potential to reach over 80 percent of households in the U.S.  The company has business relationships with 150 retailers operating 8,000 stores.  Instacart has commissioned Goldman Sachs to be the lead for the IPO anticipated during the first quarter of 2020. 



Walmart to Exit Seiyu Supermarket Chain in Japan


Walmart intends to dispose of its majority shareholding in the Seiyu supermarket chain in Japan to KKR and Co. and Rakuten who will purchase 65 percent and 20 percent of equity respectively.  The Seiyu chain involves 300 stores including supermarkets, hypermarkets, and general merchandise units. Seiyu has been majority-owned and controlled by Walmart since 2008.


KKR will provide financing with Rakuten applying their extensive digital expertise necessary for Seiyu to establish a strategic growth plan for an omnichannel presence in Japan. The Company will have to transition from conventional brick and mortar to online.  This trend is influenced by the occurrence of COVID, effectively controlled in Japan but a constant concern for consumers.


BioChek Group Appoints CEO


Thomas Struckmeyer has been appointed CEO of the BioChek Group comprising BioChek in Holland and BioTecon Diagnostics GmbH of Germany.  The transition to new leadership will occur during mid-December, with Struckmeyer succeeding founder Barend van Dam, who will assume the position of Chairman of the Supervisory Board.


Struckmeyer has more than 20 years of management experience in the diagnostics industry with a focus on food safety and animal health.  He was most recently Vice President of Strategy and Business Development and CEO of IdentiGen. 


Thomas Struckmeyer

Van Dam stated, “I am looking forward to handing over my responsibilities to Thomas.  With his deep insight in all areas of the diagnostic business, his strong customer focus and track record in successfully developing existing and new businesses, he is the ideal person to continue the successful development of the BioChek group.”


WEEKLY COMMODITY REPORT: November 20th 2020.


  • The financial and economic uncertainties of a Biden-Harris Administration and the escalating COVID-19 pandemic continue but these factors appear to have had little influence on the commodity market this past week as society struggles with ascending COVID incidence delaying a return to a “new normal”. The direction of agricultural and trade policy to be implemented in 2021 will emerge following the nomination of Cabinet members and their subordinates.
  • S producers are now receiving and conversely, livestock producers are paying over $4 per bushel for corn and $11 per bushel for soybeans.
  • Commodity prices this past week were higher, adding to increases recorded last week. Factors influencing prices included export orders, lower projections for 2020 crop yields and ending stocks as documented in the November 10th WASDE Report. Corn showed a 3.4 percent rise for the week with daily fluctuation on prospects of additional orders from China and shipments to Mexico and S. Korea. Soybeans were up 2.9 percent in price this week mainly due to orders booked by China and other nations and projected lower ending stocks attributed to a downward revision of yield and associated factors. Soybean meal rose 1.5 percent disproportionately lower than the rise in the price of soybeans.
  • Since July 10th year-to-date exports and 2020/2021 market-year orders for corn have attained 9.39 million metric tons (370.0 million bushels). Orders for soybeans amounted to 19.5 million tons (716.0 million bushels) accelerating during September and October. USDA did not report on sales of corn and soybeans this past week.
  • Prospects for commodity exports to China during the 2020/2021 market year that began on September 1st for corn and soybeans have apparently improved. China adjusted their domestic short-term demand for soybeans as a result of an apparent increase in the hog population after severe losses in 2019 and early 2020 from African swine fever. White-feathered chicken production has now recovered after COVID disruptions and on QSR demand. China is also taking advantage of shipping rates that are fluctuating sharply in order to build inventory. The Baltic Dry Index tracking the three categories of vessels that was 1,860 in mid-October 2019, fell to 504 in late May 2020 and is now at 1,134 having risen 0.9 percent from the value last week to the lowest level since mid-June.


The following quotations for delivery in the months as indicated were posted by the CME shortly before the close of trading on November 20th compared with values posted on November 13th (in parentheses) reflecting specified months for delivery.



Corn (cents per bushel)

 Dec. 423 (409)

March ‘21 428 (418)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

 Jan. ’21 1,181 (1,148)

March ’21 1,182 (1,145)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

 Dec. 395 (389)

March ‘21 390 (385)

Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal over five trading days this past week were:-


Corn: Dec. quotation up 14 cents per bushel (+3.4 percent)

Soybeans: Jan. quotation up 33 cents per bushel (+2.9 percent)

Soybean Meal: Dec. quotation up $6 per ton (+1.5 percent)


  • For each 10 cent per bushel change in corn:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.45 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight


  • For each $10 per ton change in the price of soybean meal:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.44 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight


This week the escalation in the prices of corn and soybeans would increase production cost for eggs by 0.9 cents per dozen and 0.5 cents per pound live for broilers.


Uncertainties still include:-

  • There are questions as to whether China will satisfy quantitative obligations in terms of the Phase One Trade Agreement during calendar 2020. The Agreement signed in mid-January incorporated U.S. tariff rescissions, promised purchases of agricultural commodities (valued at $36.5 billion in 2020 and $43.5 billion in 2021), concessions on some structural issues by China and strengthened enforcement provisions. Since the Phase One agreement was signed, China has imported agricultural commodities including soybeans, corn, sorghum, pork and beef to the value of $23 Billion according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, amounting to 63 percent of commitment by China although this figure is disputed by independent economists. Renegotiation of the Phase-One Agreement by the incoming Administration is an unknown quantity.
  • Domestic U.S. soybean and soybean meal demand is now less constrained by COVID-induced cutbacks in the intensive livestock and poultry sectors.


According to the November 10th WASDE, corn to be harvested in calendar 2020 is expected to attain 14,507 million bushels with ending stocks projected at 1,702 million bushels. Final values will be modified by actual yield as influenced by weather conditions and export volume. Compared with the November 6th closing price the CME quotation for corn on November 20th was up 14 cents per bushel for December delivery to 423 cents, adding to the 22 cents per bushel rise recorded during the preceding two weeks.


The social restrictions imposed in the U.S. as a result of COVID-19 will reduce ethanol demand by 1.5 billion gallons or 10 percent of projected 2020 requirement accepting a nominal ten percent addition to gasoline. More than thirty percent of U.S. ethanol fermentation capacity is off-line at present and the outlook for increased demand is questionable. Ethanol was priced lower at $1.39 per gallon on November 20th down 4 cents per gallon (2.8 percent) representing a similar increase to the 2.1 percent rise last week and compared with a five-year low of $0.92 per gallon on March 26th. Concurrently gasoline at $1.17 per gallon (quoted, New York Harbor) is 22 cents per gallon lower than ethanol and has a 63 percent higher BTU rating.


With more plants producing ethanol in the 4th quarter, DDGS is now available but at a higher price than in the third quarter. Eastern Corn-belt product was priced at $192 per ton on November 17th, $9 higher than the previous week and $44 per ton more expensive than November 19th 2019.


 Soybeans were to be the beneficiary of the Phase-One agreement with China and were up 33 cents per bushel to 1,181 cents for January 2021 delivery. The USDA anticipates a 2020 crop of 4,170 million bushels, but this value may be depressed by drought in some states. Ending stocks according to the November 10th WASDE projection will attain 190 million bushels, down from the October projection of 290 million bushels.


On November 17th Meat and Bone meal quoted Central U.S. attained $335 per ton, up $108 per ton from November 19th 2019.


On November 20th the BRL exchange with the CNY was 0.82, (up CNY 0.01 from the previous week). The conversion of the US$ to the CNY was set at 6.6 on November 20th, up CNY 0.2 from the previous week.


For consecutive years 2017 through 2019 the U.S. supplied 34.4 percent of soybean requirements for China amounting to 95.5 million metric tons. This was followed by a decline to 16.9 percent of 88.5 million metric tons in 2018 and 16.6 percent of 88.0 million metric tons in 2019. The USDA anticipates that soybean imports by China will amount to 95 million metric tons during the 2020-2021 market year.


The following extracts from the September 30th 2020 edition of the Quarterly USDA Grain Stocks Report indicate the levels of storage on farms and in fields and off-farm for corn and soybeans.

  • “Old crop corn stocks in all positions on September 1, 2020 totaled 2.00 billion bushels, down 10 percent from September 1, 2019. Of the total stocks, 751 million bushels are stored on farms, down 8 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 1.24 billion bushels, are down 12 percent from a year ago. The June to August 2020 indicated disappearance is 3.02 billion bushels, compared with 2.98 billion bushels during the same period last year. Based on an analysis of end-of-marketing year stock estimates, disappearance data for exports, and farm program administrative data, the 2019 corn for grain production is revised up 2.67 million bushels from the previous estimate. Corn silage production is revised up 715 thousand tons. Planted area is revised to 89.7 million acres, and area harvested for grain is revised to 81.3 million acres. Area harvested for silage is revised to 6.62 million acres. The 2019 grain yield, at 167.5 bushels per acre, is up 0.1 bushel from the previous estimate. The 2019 silage yield, at 20.2 tons per acre, remains unchanged from the previous estimate”.
  • “Old crop soybeans stored in all positions on September 1, 2020 totaled 523 million bushels, down 42 percent from September 1, 2019. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 141 million bushels, down 47 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 382 million bushels, are down 41 percent from last September. Indicated disappearance for June - August 2020 totaled 858 million bushels, down 2 percent from the same period a year earlier. Based on an analysis of end-of-marketing year stock estimates, disappearance data for exports and crushings, and farm program administrative data, the 2019 soybean production is revised down 333 thousand bushels from the previous estimate. Planted area is unchanged at 76.1 million acres, but harvested area is revised to 74.9 million acres. The 2019 yield, at 47.4 bushels per acre, is unchanged from the previous estimate”.


On November 12th the USDA-ERS published data on the export volume (thousand metric tons) and value ($ million) of agricultural commodities covering the periods October through September 2019 and 2020:-

Corn. 2019: 49,124 million m. tons valued at $8,996 million. For 2020: 46,858 million m. tons valued at $8,214 million.

Soybeans. 2019: 48,241 million m. tons valued at $16,997 million. For 2020: 46,858 million m. tons valued at $18,021 million.



Subscribers are referred to the November 10th WASDE #606 under the STATISTICS TAB and the result of the 2020 Pro Farmer 7-State Tour is retrievable under the Search TAB.


 President Trump opined on July 10th that he is “not contemplating a second phase of a trade agreement with China”


Approximately $16 billion will be disbursed under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). An additional $14 Billion relief package was announced by the Administration on September 18th with most distributed.


LPAI Identified in Missouri Backyard Duck Flock


In accordance with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) requirements, the USDA has reported a limited outbreak of low Pathogenicity H5N2 strain avian influenza in a single non-commercial flock of ducks. Appropriate quarantine and surveillance has been in effect for a week. All H5 and H7 strain cases are reportable.


The affected farm is located in Webster County located in southwest Missouri, east of Springfield and north of Branson.


The obvious implication from the isolation of H5N2 AI is that the risk of outbreaks has been raised due to presumed introduction by migratory waterfowl. Appropriate intensification of biosecurity is warranted.


Additional postings in this edition document outbreaks of HPAI attributed to migratory birds in the EU. Other articles on recent outbreaks of HPAI may be retrieved from both EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS by entering “Influenza” in the SEARCH block.


CDC Promoting U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week


The week of November 18th-24th has been designated U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week.  The CDC intens to provide information on prevention of foodborne diseases and to educate the public on the dangers of excessive or injudicious use of antibiotics.


The CDC estimates that nearly 700,000 citizens are infected with either drug resistant Salmonella or Campylobacter .


It is noted that financial and ethical considerations severely constrained the administration of antibiotics in egg production for many years even before the FDA restrictions were imposed.   


Additional information will be posted on the CDC website <>.


China Aggressively Purchasing Grains


Due to a shortfall of 20 to 30 million metric tons of cereal grains in 2020 as a result of inclement weather and typhoons, China has aggressively purchased corn, wheat, barely and sorghum.


Following depletion of strategic reserves, China increased imports of all grains by 85 percent over the first nine months of 2020 compared to 2019 to a level of 20 million metric tons. As corn prices rise, buyers affiliated to government trading organizations are evaluating alternative grains including barley and wheat.


The 2020-2021 market year commencing on September 1st marked a sharp rise in orders with 17 million tons of corn booked from the U.S., Ukraine and Argentina as the major suppliers.  In addition to corn, nine million metric tons of wheat and collectively 15 million tons of barley, sorghum and other grains  will be imported. China will compete with Japan for available grain resulting in an escalation in world prices.


A review of U.S. corn prices reflecting the past 20-weeks demonstrated a 30 percent rise, for a Midwest egg producer adding approximately four cents per dozen to the cost of production. Similar increases prevail for broilers.



Additional Outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI in Europe


According to the Ministry of Agriculture in France, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), strain H5N8 was isolated from pet birds on the Isle of Corsica in the Mediterranean.  Based on the event and concurrent outbreaks among poultry and wild birds in western and northern Europe, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a state of alert for the entire nation of France presumably requiring all commercial poultry flocks to be confined.


Reuters reported that H5N8 HPAI infected a flock of 25,000 chickens in Denmark.  The outbreak followed mortality in wild birds from which H5N8 was isolated. 


Germany has reported HPAI in a flock of 16,000 turkeys in northern Germany attesting to the widespread dissemination of H5N8 virus in Europe.

Restrictions in Denmark




Update on the Moderna and Pfizer COVID Vaccines


On Monday, November 16th, Moderna Therapeutics announced that their mRNA-based vaccine achieved 95 percent protection in a field trial comparing 1,500 vaccinated subjects and 1,500 controls receiving a placebo.  Among the trial group, five participants developed COVID-19, all with mild cases.  In contrast, among the non-vaccinated controls, 90 cases were diagnosed with 11 developing severe symptoms. There were no adverse effects associated with vaccination other than transient mild body ache, fatigue and headache in a small proportion of recipients following the second vaccination.


Based on the trial, Moderna has submitted data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization. Dr. Tal Zachs, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna, stated “It was one of the greatest moments in my life and my career.  It is absolutely amazing to be able to develop this vaccine and see the ability to prevent symptomatic disease with such high efficiency.”

Dr. Anthony Faucci

Director NIAID-NIH


Dr. Antony Fauci, Director of the National Arthritis and Infectious Diseases Center of the National Institute of Health, stated “These are obviously very exciting results.  It’s just as good as it gets.”  Dr. Fauci predicts that the first vaccinations will commence towards the end of December, subject to approval, but restraints on production will restrict general administration until April.


Similar efficacy was documented for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine developed without U.S. Federal funding, although the DHHS has committed to purchasing 100 million doses. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinates demonstrated eight cases, with one seriously affected. In contrast among the placebo group there were 162 cases with eleven assessed as clinically severe. This vaccine was 94 percent effective in recipients over 65 years old, regarded as a demographic at high risk of complications from COVID infection.


Both the Moderna and the previously announced Pfizer vaccine deliver mRNA, coding for specific antigenic spike protein carried by the coronavirus.  The immune system of the recipient generates antibodies to the spike protein providing immunity.  At this stage, the duration of protective immunity is unknown but this will become apparent in coming months following wide distribution of the vaccine. 


The difference between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine is that the former product is stable for up to six months held at -100 F, but may be stored in a conventional refrigerator for up to 30 days and 12 hours at room temperature without losing immunogenicity.  This property will facilitate distribution and administration. The Pfizer vaccine requires a critical cold chain of -100 F that will represent restraints in distribution and storage to the point of administration.


The Moderna vaccine program calls for an initial vaccination followed by a booster dose 21 days later.  There is a suggested 28 day period between the first Pfizer vaccination and the booster.


The need for a vaccine is becoming more urgent given the ascending incidence rate across virtually the entire nation. As of November 17th the U.S. has recorded 11.4 million diagnosed cases of COVID with 250,000 fatalities. Over the past seven days 1.1 millon cases were diagnosed. In contrast it required 96 days from the emergence of Covid to attain the first million cases. Unfortunately the initial availability of vaccine will require restriction to a priority list through the first quarter of 2021. Thereafter greater quantities of vaccine will be available subject to manufacturing and logistic restraints.


Following approval of the two vaccines and possibly other candidates by the FDA it will be necessary to initiate a campaign to encourage our population to accept the benefits of vaccination and overcome reluctance based on prevailling fear and uncertainty. This has been fuelled by conflicting messages from responsible medical professionals, epidemiologists contrasted with unscientific and irresponsible statements by politicians. The quicker we control COVID the more rapidly we can restore our economy and our previous way of life.


Israel Reports Outbreaks of HPAI


Highly pathogenic avian influenza strain H5N8 has been reported by Israel from a number of poultry operations.  Broiler and turkey breeders and grow-out flocks have been infected. 


Reponses to infection include depletion with quarantine and surveillance of surrounding flocks in accordance with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommendations.


Sad Passing of Bob Scott


It is with extreme regret that we note the death of Bob Scott on November 15th in Memphis TN. at the age of 80. Bob was a native of Kentucky and he earned a baccalaureate degree in Agriculture from the University of Kentucky before service in the U.S. Army.


Bob spent his entire professional career in the egg industry working with DeKalb and then Cargill before acquisition of the laying farm assets by Cal-Maine Foods in 1989.  Bob served Cal-Maine with distinction contributing to the successful growth of the Company, retiring in 2018 as Vice-president of Operations. During the past two years he continued to assist his Cal-Maine colleagues with advice and participated in special projects where his extensive experience was invaluable.


Bob was noted for his unique ability to balance his business obligations and travel while maintaining an enriching family life with service to his community. He is remembered as a guide and mentor to young managers and was always available to assist in solving problems. He was respected by his peers and colleagues and his demeanor and accomplishments contributed to the image of the industry and his company


We extend sincere condolences to his widow Iva and his three children and grandchildren.


As a consummate gentleman epitomizing the best of our industry he will be sadly missed.


AEB Promotion Emphasized Nutritional Value of Eggs for Infants


Liz Shore recently presented a satellite media tour featuring a registered dietitian emphasizing the nutritional value of eggs for babies and toddlers.  Eighteen broadcast interviews resulted in 1,760 segment airings and 27.7 million viewers.  The tour generated 972,000 online impressions and 109 press releases with 132 million impressions. 


The media tour emphasized aspects of the Dietary Guidelines promoting the benefits of eggs with a specific concentration on brain development and cognition.


Amazon Expands Key In-Garage Delivery Service


The Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery Service launched in April 2019 in fifty cities has been extended to 4,000 locations with grocery included.


Consumers can receive deliveries placed in their garages using the Chamberlain Group MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener.  Confirmation of delivery can be accessed remotely using Ring home cameras. 


Pete Gerstberger, manager of Key by Amazon stated, "customers tell us they appreciate the convenience and peace of mind that in-garage delivery offers, and we are happy to expand the service to thousands of additional cities".


South Australia Lifts Ban on GMO Crops


Farmers on all mainland South Australia will now be able to grow GMO crops following a decision by David Basher, the Minister responsible for Primary Industries and Regional Development. In announcing the change in State policy Basham stated, "the government has undertaken an exhaustive consultation process on lifting the GMO moratorium. The outcome today importantly gives farmers on mainland South Australia the same choice as those across the rest of Australia".  He added, "by lifting the GM moratorium everywhere except Kangaroo Island we are backing our farmers and researchers to grow the state agriculture sector and create jobs". 


A GM Crop Advisory Committee rejected applications for exemptions based on lack of scientific evidence to support claims that GM crops represented a hazard.


ADM Reports Q3 Results


On October 29, the Archer-Daniels Midland Company (ADM) reported on the third quarter of fiscal 2020 ending September 30th.


For the period, the company posted net earnings of $225 million on sales of $15,126 million with an EPS of $0.40.  Comparable values for the third quarter of fiscal 2019 were net earnings of $407 million on revenue of $16,726 million with an            EPS of $0.72.


In commenting on results, Chairman and CEO, Juan Luciano commented, “We delivered an outstanding quarter and I am proud of our teams continued great performance.”  He added, “Our strategic initiatives, combined with exceptional execution are driving strong results across all of our businesses.  Nutrition continues it’s impressive upwards trajectory, delivering a fifth consecutive quarter of 20-plus percent year-over-year operating profit growth.”


ADM posted total assets of $31, 099 million with long term debt of $7,924 million.  ADM has a market capitalization of $27.86 billion.  The company has traded over the past 52-weeks in a range of $28.92 to $52.05 with a 50-day moving average of $48.38.

The company posted a trailing 12 month operating margin of 2.6 percent and a profit margin of 2.5 percent.  Return on assets and equity amounted to 2.4 percent and 8.3 percent respectively.


SNAP Recipients Ordering Online


Walmart and Amazon both report increased use of online ordering by recipients of  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  According to Bloomberg, five percent of eligible recipients purchase online with either delivery or curbside pick up.  The use of online ordering follows a USDA pilot program introduced in 2019 as an experiment, but expanded with the advent of COVID in April of this year.


American Egg Board Introduces "The Gift of Eggs" Video Spots


Emily Metz

Applying both fact and humor, the American Egg Board has devised a seasonal promotional approach with two spots elevating the value of eggs and emphasizing their intrinsic and nutritional value.


Emily Metz, President and CEO of the AEB stated, "food is ever important during the holidays and we expect to be much more so this year as families look for ways to celebrate under challenging circumstances".  She added, "we wanted to give people a laugh because we could all use a little extra cheer this year".

The AEB has developed two fifteen-second spots.  The first satirizes the Lexus Christmas gift new-car advertisement screened through November. The AEB version depicts a carton of eggs emblazoned with a large bow in the driveway.  The second spot entitled satirizes a marriage proposal with an egg in place of a diamond ring.


It is considered both topical and impactful for AEB to have developed these innovative 15-second spots that will certainly elevate the image of eggs and emphasize their central role in family-oriented Christmas celebrations. The humor both uplifts and stimulates retention of the message.


Visit for more giftable holiday recipes. 



U.K. Egg Recall Over SE expanded to Additional Chains


According to an article in the Sunday Express on November 15th the egg recall as a result of an SE break on a specific farm has been extended to more national chains.


The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has posted a statement on their website reading: “A very small number of the above eggs may be contaminated with salmonella, due to it being found in the environment. The eggshell surface might also be contaminated.”  The statement continued  “as a precaution, consumers are advised to thoroughly cook the eggs listed in the tables above, this means the egg yolks and whites should not be eaten runny. This will eliminate Salmonella and avoid risk of illness.”


Only England and Wales are affected in this recall and only specific batches from farm 15270 with three housing systems (free-range, barn and colony cage) are of concern.


New Product Spotlight: Kashi Go, Cinnamon Brown Sugar Protein Waffles


These crispy protein waffles serve up 13 grams of protein based on a mix of eggs, soy, and whey with hemp seed


"Eggalicious" School Meals


The AEB is publicizing examples of school meals featuring eggs. Recipes delighting students around the

Country include:-   

  • Sausage, Egg and Cheese, and Steak, Egg and Cheese sandwiches 

served on biscuits were favored by students at Bowdon Middle School in Georgia.

  • Homemade chocolate chip zucchini muffins were featured on the

breakfast menu this month at Stonington Public Schools in Connecticut.  

  • Spinach frittata served as brunch for lunch at Harrison Elementary School in Chicago.  


Interview with Dr. Don Hoenig


Dr. Don Hoenig has enjoyed a long and varied professional career in private practice, teaching and regulatory medicine including the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services (APHIS, VS) for five years and 26 years with the Maine Department of Agriculture mostly as the State Veterinarian.  From 2014-2020 he was senior veterinarian advisor to the American Humane Farm Welfare Program.  He has traveled widely for his affiliates in the U.S. and also for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on assignments in Africa.  His experience extends from aquaculture through dairy, bees and poultry.


Recently EGG-NEWS had the opportunity to review his past career and future activities.


EGG-NEWS:  Please share some information on your education and early career.


Dr. Don Hoenig


Dr. Hoenig:  I was born and raised in New Jersey and vacationed in Maine. I fell in love with the State of Maine and upon high school graduation, I enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.  After college graduation in 1973 I spent a year training guide dogs and their owners at The Seeing Eye in Morriston NJ before entering the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine graduating in 1978.  After 2 years in mixed animal practice on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, I joined the USDA and spent five years in various locations in New England.  My direct experience with poultry was gained during the 1983-84 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Pennsylvania.  During this time I undertook special training in foreign animal diseases.  In 1986, an opportunity opened up as a Field Veterinarian for the Maine Department of Agriculture to service the poultry and dairy industries in the state.  Subsequently I was appointed as State Veterinarian and jointly as the Public Health Veterinarian.


EGG-NEWS:  Please comment on your involvement in regulatory veterinary medicine.


Dr. Hoenig:  During my tenure as the Maine State Veterinarian I participated in framing regulations and laws involving dairy, aquaculture and poultry, with particular emphasis on mastitis and milk quality assistance to Maine’s dairy farmers.  I also was among the first group of 10 U.S. veterinarians to provide assistance to the United Kingdom government during a catastrophic Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001. After retiring as State Veterinarian in 2012-13, I served on the staff of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) as an AVMA Congressional Fellow and was involved in advising on legislation concerning food safety, the Farm Bill, animal welfare, antimicrobial resistance, and dairy policy.  During my affiliation with American Humane, I participated in reviewing and revising farm welfare standards and advising on their implementation for the benefit of the dairy, swine and poultry industries.  My involvement with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) involved interaction with colleagues in Paris and three missions to Africa—


EGG-NEWS:  We are aware that you have received numerous honors in your career.  Could you please expand?


Dr. Hoenig:  In 2003 I received the Maine Veterinary Medical Association’s Service Award.  In 2012 my involvement in public health including suppression of Salmonella Enteritidis on  egg-producing farms resulted in the Pump Handle Award for Epidemiology from the Maine CDC.  In the same year I received the USDA APHIS Administrator’s Award and in 2018 the United States Animal Health Association Medal of Distinction.


EGG-NEWS:  How do you see your post-retirement career progressing?


Dr. Hoenig:  I’ve enjoyed serving as a consultant on farm animal welfare when offered the chance and have also been involved in advising pharmaceutical and biologics companies on public health and wildlife rabies. I have been involved in litigation as an expert and hope to apply my training and experience to any future assignments.


EGG-NEWS:  Have you any messages for the industry?


Dr. Hoenig:  Producers must always prioritize animal welfare above all else. As veterinarians, I believe we must help to engage, energize and educate consumers with the reality that intensive, integrated animal production provides high quality, safe protein for millions in the world and that large can be compatible with high welfare outcomes if the animals come first.  I believe that the overwhelming majority of producers do the best things for their animals.  One of the Five Freedoms of animal welfare states that animals should be allowed the opportunity to express their normal behaviors. In pursuit of this goal, producers are moving toward cage-free housing of hens, the elimination of gestation crates for sows and enhanced outdoor access for organic certified and specialty animal products. These all represent positive outcomes for the poultry and livestock we raise, and they are the right things to do. Placing animals first and providing them with a good life is the only way to counter attacks from activist groups whose goal is the elimination of animal agriculture.


Zero Egg Raises U.S. Funding


Zero Egg Inc. based in Israel has raised $5 million in venture capital, bringing their U.S. total to $8 million.  The company manufactures a substitute egg product in the U.S. based on soy protein and pea flour and  intends to market products to food service and for industrial baking.


Investors include Power Plant Ventures, Unovis Asset Management-New Crop Capital and the StrassGroup-The kitchen Hub.


In commenting on the investment Dan Y. Altschuler representing investors as a Board Member of Zero Egg stated "The egg category is massive and the potential to disrupt it with an accessible plant-based solution is fairly untapped in the food industry. As investors, we are looking forward to continuing to support the expansion of Zero Egg in the U.S. market,"


Zero with a business-to-business model will represent aggressive competition in plant-based egg substitutes although Just, scheduled to commence production in Singapore for the Asian market and by Crack'd backed by Noble Foods in the U.K. are oriented to consumers.


Escalation in World Food Costs


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported an increase in the monthly Food Index to 100.9 points in October, up 3.1 percent from September and 6.0 percent above the corresponding month in 2019.


The largest contributor to the increase was the Cereal Price Index which rose by 7.2 percent over September and 16.5 percent above October 2019 value.


Escalation was recorded in vegetable oils (1.8 percent from September); dairy (2.2 percent); sugar (7.6 percent). In contrast he Meat Price Index was down 0.5 percent from September.


Court Ruling in Washington State Has Implications for All Agriculture


The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that workers on dairy farms in the state are eligible for overtime pay.  The case relates to claims made by dairy farm workers in 2016 when as a class they worked in excess of 40 hours per week on a large dairy.  The 5-4 ruling of the Washington State Supreme Court will oblige all farmers in the state to pay overtime following the lead of California.  Since the case was instituted in 2016, there is a prospect of three years back-pay that is still the subject of litigation.


The decision will not ultimately be confined to the West coast. Trends tend to migrate eastward and to spontaneously arise on the right coast. Increasing the cost of labor will inevitably lead to higher levels of mechanization, automation and robotics in all segments of agriculture.


Romaine Lettuce Implicated in STEC Outbreaks


In late October, Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the Food and Drug Administration, announced that investigations were in progress concerning two outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli O157:H7 infection.  At the time Yiannas did not identify a vehicle of infection, but his Agency was cooperating with CDC and local health departments.  In the interim the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Michigan is advising consumers not to eat Tanimura & Antle brand romaine lettuce packed in Salinas in mid-October. 


Outbreaks of STEC infection have occurred in successive recent years attributed to consumption of contaminated romaine lettuce and other leafy greens grown in the Yuma Valley of Arizona and the Imperial Valley in California.


Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are considered to be responsible for contaminated runoff introducing STEC into irrigation water.


Following applied research, some measures have been taken to reduce the possibility of infection of consumers of green produce but the measures taken are probably more ameliorative than specific.  The leafy greens industry needs an absolute kill step between production and packing to ensure the wholesomeness of their products.


H5N8 HPAI in Northern Germany


Following recovery of H5N8 strain highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus from dead wild birds, it is considered inevitable that an outbreak would be diagnosed in commercial chickens in the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein near the border with Denmark.


The infection was rapidly diagnosed, and the flock was depleted.  This index farm will obviously not be the only case in coming weeks as authorities recognize the extent of shedding H5N8 virus by migratory birds. 


Following results of surveillance on wild waterfowl, Holland, France, and Germany have advised farmers to confine flocks to avoid exposure to HPAI.  Half of the Departments in France are regarded as being at high-risk with free-range chickens and waterfowl.


The events in Western Europe should represent a caution for producers in the U.S.


New Administration to Inherit Unresolved Decisions over RFS


The Administration has requested an extension from the U.S. Supreme Court to respond to a petition from oil refiners concerning obligations to blend ethanol into gasoline.  The courts have imposed a deadline of November 12th to rule on whether waivers will be extended to refiners against the demands of the biofuels industry.  The court has yet to rule whether the deadline will be extended to December 14th. 

At present there are no decision on exemptions for the 21019 compliance year and the biofuel blending mandates under the RFS have yet to be determined for the coming year with a November 30th deadline.


SE in Israel Reviewed at AVMA Virtual Convention


Dr. Riva Ben-Ezra, Deputy Chief Veterinarian for the Control of Animal Products affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Veterinary Services in Israel, commented on ethics and financial tradeoffs in considering flock depletion and public health at the virtual 2020 AVMA Convention. At issue was a widespread and escalating incidence of Salmonella Enteritidis infection in consumers, commencing in mid-2017 and extending through 2019.


Yosh MaOf was  identified as the source of infection. housing 350,000 hens, the unit is regarded as exceptionally large by Israeli standards.  Initially, the ownwers of the farm claimed that the eggs responsible for infection among consumers were illegally introduced into the market from the Palestinian Territory where SE is endemic.  Applying whole genome sequencing, it was shown that the SE in smuggled eggs was different from the isolates from the implicated farm and were common to patients in Israel, including children and adults. Dr. Ben-Ezra arranged for eggs to be diverted for heat treatment and the farm of 350,000 hens was depleted. 


She opined, “This is one instance where the protection of public health may potentially clash with veterinary medical ethics, requiring culling.”  She added, “Veterinarians have the ability and even the obligation to destroy ‘patients’ for the greater good to protect animal health and to protect human health.”


Dr. Ben-Ezra encapsulated the major principles of controlling a crisis.  She stressed a designated spokesperson, a single agency to give consistent information to consumers and other stakeholders and clear lines of communication.  In a tacit warning to veterinary regulators, she advised that policy and messages should be developed before a crisis to ensure smooth implementation of remidial programs.


Sima, G. Investigators Face Difficult Decisions on Depopulation, Recourse for Salmonelosis.  JAVMA 257:885 (2020).


Major Outbreak of HPAI in Kazakhstan


The largest commercial egg farm in Kazakhstan near the regional capital of Almaty recorded flock mortality of 30 percent among 645,000 hens within a few days.  The complex is presumed to be a remnant from the centrally-planned Russian model and was evidently operated with inadequate biosecurity. 


The farm is located in close proximity to a broiler complex producing almost half of the Nation’s chicken meat.  Without knowledge of common services including feed supply and other resources, it is impossible to speculate on the probability of the infection emerging in the broiler complex.  Proximity is however consistent with aerogenous dissemination of virus.  The strain of avian influenza has not been disclosed but it is presumed to be H5N8 that is emerging as the principal pathogen in Asia and Europe in late 2020.


Almaty is in the extreme South East of the Nation

The USAPEEC Monday Line on November 9th noted that Kazakhstan produces 60 percent of poultry consumed in the Nation with the remainder imported.  The U.S. exports approximately 140,000 metric tons of leg quarters to Kazakhstan annually. In the event of an extensive outbreak, Kazakhstan will have to source broiler meat from available suppliers including the U.S., the Ukraine and Russia.


Shari Yeatts Receives SQF Quality Achievement Award


Shari Yeatts, Compliance Manager at Hickman Family Farms received the Quality Achievement Award from SQFI.  This recognizes outstanding commitment, support and contribution to improving the SQF program.


Yeatts is an 11-year veteran of Hickman Family Farms and is responsible for coordination of HACCP, Food Defense, UEP Certified Animal Welfare and SQF programs.

Shari Yeatts


China Corn Production, Imports and Use


USDA-FAS Gain Report 2020-0145 released on November 4th documented the production and disposition of corn in the Peoples Republic of China for the 2020-2021 marketing year.  Beginning stocks were estimated at 213 million metric tons (8,392 million bushels).  Production will attain 250 million metric tons (9,850 million bushels).  Production will be approximately 4.2 percent lower than the 2019-2020 market year.  Imports were projected to increase sharply from 7 million metric tons to 22 million tons or close to 4.5 percent of total supply due to the effect of drought and typhoons in some areas.  Of the 485 million metric tons available, 39.5 percent will be for feed and residual with 18.2 percent for food, seed, and industrial consumption.  Exports will represent a small proportion of production attaining approximately 20,000 metric tons. Ending stocks will be 204 million metric tons (8,037 million bushels).


Yield, based on acreage and production data is estimated at 98 bushels per acre attesting to non-GMO seed, inadequate fertilizer and pesticide application and other inefficiencies.


Corn was quoted on the Dalian Commodity exchange on Friday November 6th at $350 per short to compared to the CME at $148 per ton.


Trader Joe's Claims a Low COVID Incidence Rate Among Store Workers


Trader Joe’s announced that over an eight-month period ending October 31st, 1,250 employees tested positive for COVID-19 out of 53,000, representing an infection rate of 2.4 percent.  Approximately a quarter of the 514 stores in 42 states had no evidence of exposure and the number of cases reported per store ranged from zero to four.  Of those infected, 95 percent have recovered and returned to work.


Although there are no available comparative figures for infection among grocery workers in other chains, the national rate assuming 9.2 million cases and 230 million population is four percent.


Trader Joe’s has ranked high on evaluation of measures to reduce the probability of infection including early adoption of masking, social distancing, and limiting the number of shoppers in each store.  Ipsos Consumer Health and Safety Index commented favorably on the action taken by Trader Joe’s during the initial phase of the pandemic.  In the second upsurge of COVID in September, Trader Joe’s was ranked second among retailers according to Ipsos.


Trader Joes applying social distancing of
customers and limiting occupancy

Jon Basalone, President of stores for Trader Joe’s noted that measures adopted exceeded the recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The United Food and Commercial Workers Union claims that 16,300 workers among the approximately 550,000 employed in meat packing plants, food processing facilities, and retail have been infected with an effective rate of 29 percent.  The UFCW claims that 108 workers have died from COVID-19 or a 0.7 percent fatality rate indicating that many of the positive diagnoses were either asymptomatic or mild. Given 9.6 million COVID cases through November 3rd and 233,000 fatalities, the national fatality rate among those actually diagnosed with COVID is 0.4 percent, accepting the undercounting of both direct and indirect fatalities.


AAAP Awards in 2020


The American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) announced awards at the Virtual Annual Meeting held July 30th-August 6th. 

  • The Lasher-Bottorff Award went to Dr. Eric Gingerich in recognition of an avian diagnosticion or technical service veterinarian who has made important contributions to the poultry health program in North America over the past ten years.
  • The Phibro Animal Health Excellence in Poultry Research was awarded to Dr. Mark Jackwood of the University of Georgia where he serves as the J.R. Glisson Professor of Avian Medicine.
  • The P.P.Levine Award went to Dr. John R. Dunn as the senior author of the most worthy paper published in the Journal of Avian Diseases.  He is affiliated with the USDA-ARS National Poultry Research Center.
  • The AAAP Special Service Award in Excellence and Mentorship went to Dr. Mark Bland, a poultry veterinarian affiliated with Cutler Associates International.
  • Dr. Lisa Nolan and Patricia Dunn, Dr. Patricia Wakenell were inducted into the AAAP Hall of Honor.
  • Dr. John Glisson, who served as head of the Poultry Disease Research Center and as a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia and was subsequently Vice President of Research for USPOULTRY, was awarded AAAP Life Membership.




Dr Eric Gingerich

Dr. John Glisson


Children in Texas Exposed to Rabies from Bat


According to press reports, 15 kindergarten children in Texas found and fondled a live moribund bat. Invariably bats encountered in daylight that are sufficiently inactive to be handled are affected by rabies, representing a hazard to human and animal contacts.  Following examination of the bat that disclosed rabies, the children were traced and will require vaccination.


This is at least the third such incident of this type within recent memory.  Fortunately, modern rabies vaccines are effective if applied shortly after exposure.

Mexica Free-tailed Bat


Publix Releases Q3 Earnings


Privately held Publix Inc released sales and earnings for the third quarter of FY2020 on November 2nd.  For the quarter ending September 26th 2020, earnings attained $918 million on sales of $11.1 billion, with an EPS of $1.31.  This data compares with Q3 of Fiscal 2019 with earnings of $574 million on sales of $9.3 billion with an EPS of $0.81.  The company ascribed $1.25 billion of earnings in the third quarter of 2020 to COVID-related buying.  Same-store sales showed a 16.5 percent increase in Q3 2020 compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019. 


Publix operates 1,251 stores in Southeast and mid-Atlantic states.  In commenting on results, CEO Todd Jones stated, “Our associates’ efforts to serve our customers, our communities, and each other during this challenging time continues to be extraordinary.” 


Publix calculates a stock price based on earnings and peer performance.  Only employees and directors are eligible to purchase equity in the company.  Based on earnings, Publix adjusted stock price from $54.35 to $57.95 on November 1st. 


Dunkin’ Egg Menu Item


As part of its holiday menu reveal, Dunkin’® introduced a new Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich featuring two eggs and available through the end of the year. The AEB has a long-standing relationship with Dunkin

to support and inspire new product innovation efforts like this new breakfast sandwich. 


Dunkin’ was recently acquired by Inspire Brands and will join the Arby’s, Sonic, Buffalo Wild Wings and other chains within the group.  


Fine Dining Restaurants Impacted by COVID


On October 29th, both Ruth’s Hospitality Group and the Cheesecake Factory posted results for their respective third quarters of 2020. 


Ruth’s posted revenue of $63.4 million with a loss of $(5.3) million and a negative EPS of $(0.15).  Comparable figures for the third quarter of FY2019 were revenue $103 million with net earnings of $4.5 million and an EPS of $0.16.


For the third quarter ending September 29th, the Cheesecake Factory posted revenue of $517 million and a net loss of $(28.3) million with a negative EPS of $(0.76).  Comparable values for the third quarter of fiscal 2019 were revenue of $587 million, net earnings of $16.6 million and an EPS of $0.37.


Both companies have re-opened the majority of their restaurants with appropriate COVID precautions.  Notwithstanding these measures it is evident that customers are disinclined to patronize restaurants based on fear of COVID. This may in part be offset by home delivery and pick-up. With respect to both casual and fine dining, financial considerations may be a deterrent, given ongoing high unemployment and job insecurity.


Expenditure on dining-out is now diverted to home cooking and online entertainment.


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