Weekly global protein digest - China, HPAI in poultry and cattle, Finland to offer avian flu vaccines to high-risk workers

Analyst Jim Wyckoff reports on global protein news
calendar icon 21 June 2024
clock icon 12 minute read

China may take provisional anti-dumping steps against EU pork imports

China may impose provisional anti-dumping measures on pork imports from the European Union as part of a year-long probe that began on June 17, its commerce ministry said. “If, after a preliminary investigation, it is determined that dumping has been established and has caused injury to domestic industry, provisional anti-dumping measures may be taken,” a commerce ministry spokesperson said, without giving specific details.

Former CDC Director predicts bird flu virus will cause next pandemic

Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued a grim prediction that the next major pandemic will be caused by bird flu. “It’s not a question of if, it’s more a question of when we will have a bird flu pandemic,” Dr. Redfield told NewsNation. He warned bird flu in humans has a “significant” mortality rate, “probably somewhere between 25% and 50%, so it’s going to be quite complicated.”

China’s pork imports continue to decline

China imported 80,000 MT of pork in May, down 11.1% from the previous month and 41.1% less than year-ago. Through the first five months of this year, China imported 430,000 MT of pork, down 47.1% from the same period last year.

Bird flu infects seventh Iowa dairy farm

The Iowa Department of Agriculture reported another outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in a Sioux County dairy herd of 10,000 cows, marking the seventh outbreak in Iowa since June. The virus, which is deadly to poultry, has shown limited effects on dairy cows, causing reduced appetite and milk production, but cows recover with supportive care. This is the fifth outbreak in Sioux County, with previous cases in O’Brien and Plymouth counties, affecting herds ranging from 250 to 4,500 cows.

CDC finds low immunity to H5N1 avian flu in US population

Preliminary findings from the CDC indicate that the American population has little to no pre-existing immunity to the H5N1 avian flu virus currently circulating on dairy and poultry farms. The CDC's serology study, based on blood samples from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 flu seasons, showed low antibody levels against H5N1, suggesting most people would be susceptible if the virus became more easily transmissible among humans. The risk to the general public remains low, with only three human infections reported, all in people who worked closely with cows.

Outbreaks continue steadily in dairy herds and sporadically in poultry flocks

In response, federal health officials have contracted with CSL Seqirus to produce 4.8 million doses of an H5N1 vaccine, which the CDC says matches the circulating strain well. Meanwhile, Finland will offer avian flu vaccines to high-risk workers, such as those in poultry and fur farms, as part of a joint procurement with 15 EU countries.

CFIA updates guidance on HPAI in dairy cattle

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has updated its guidance for veterinarians regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle. The CFIA will cover laboratory testing fees at any Canadian Animal Health Surveillance Network (CAHSN) lab but will not cover veterinary fees for sample collection or shipment. Non-clinical dairy cattle are now eligible for testing, requiring a milk sample for lactating animals and a nasal swab for non-lactating animals. Veterinarians must report negative test results to the district office if HPAI is suspected. While CFIA leads on HPAI in domestic birds, its role in cattle remains focused on providing scientific advice, diagnostic support, and international reporting. The CFIA collaborates with provinces, territories, and industry to ensure consistent disease management. As of June 14, no HPAI cases have been confirmed in Canadian dairy cattle.

USDA Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: June 2024

Comparison of Retail Prices per Gram of Protein for Selected Livestock, Poultry, and Egg Products The chart below depicts the monthly retail prices per gram of protein content across selected livestock, poultry, and egg products from January 2021 to May 2024. The protein content estimate per gram—a physical characteristic associated with products—is static. However, retail prices respond to various economic factors that affect both the supply and demand. Between 2021 and 2024, on a per gram of protein basis, the retail prices for selected animal products trended higher with inflation. However, at a closer look, the retail prices for several protein choices, on average, were year-over-year lower in the first 5 months of this year. For example, the retail price per gram of protein was year-over-year lower for bone-in chicken legs (-4.0 percent), boneless chicken breast (-5.4 percent), eggs (-23.6 percent), and boneless ham (-0.7 percent). Conversely, the retail prices per gram of protein were year-over-year higher for ground beef (+6.5 percent) and boneless pork chops (+2.4 percent). Absent major product specific disruptions, the relative ranking of the selected products was mostly unchanged for the period observed, except for eggs. Since 2022, egg prices have followed a notably different pattern than prices of most other animal products. Supply shocks due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks have contributed to volatile price changes over the period.

Beef/Cattle: The 2024 beef production forecast is virtually unchanged as heavier cattle weights are expected to partially offset tight cattle supplies. The 2025 beef production forecast is raised with expectations of continued high cattle weights and a shift of marketings from late 2024 into early 2025. Minor changes to cattle price projections from last month’s forecast reflect changes in recent price data. The beef trade forecasts are unchanged from last month. Sheep/Lamb: Lamb-price forecasts for 2024 and 2025 were increased between 10 and 20 dollars per hundredweight (cwt).

Dairy: Milk production forecasts for 2024 and 2025 remain unchanged from the last projection at 227.3 and 229.3 billion pounds, respectively. Adjusted 2024 price forecasts for dairy products include Cheddar cheese at $1.790 (+9.5 cents), dry whey at $0.435 (+3.50 cents), butter at $2.970 (+3.5 cents), and NDM at $1.175 (+1.5 cents). For 2025, Cheddar cheese is projected at $1.795 (+13.0 cents), dry whey at $0.400 (+2.50 cents), butter at $2.945 (+3.0 cents), and NDM remains unchanged at $1.14. Due to higher dairy product prices, the all-milk price for 2024 is forecast at $21.60 per cwt, up $0.40 from last month’s projection. For 2025, the all-milk price is expected to be $21.50 per cwt, up $0.60 from the previous forecast.

Pork/Hogs: Second-quarter pork production was adjusted upward by 40 million pounds to 6.730 billion pounds on expectations of higher average dressed weights and higher than-expected ready-to[1]slaughter hogs from the December–February pig crop. Second-quarter hog prices were lowered $2 per hundredweight (cwt) to $66 per cwt, about 16 percent below prices a year ago. Third-quarter hog prices were lowered $3 to $68 per cwt. U.S. pork exports for 2024 were increased 100 million pounds to 7.362 billion pounds, about 8 percent higher than shipments in 2023, as Europe’s share in the world's pork export markets continues to diminish.

Poultry/Eggs: Projected broiler production in 2024 was increased on recent production and hatchery data. Broiler export projections were cut in 2024 and 2025 on recent trade data and expectations of relatively uncompetitive prices. Broiler price projections for 2024 were adjusted up on the strength of domestic demand. Egg production was adjusted down in 2024 and 2025, reflecting losses due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and expectations for a gradual recovery of the flock. Projected egg exports are adjusted down on lower production prospects. Projected egg prices are adjusted up on recent data and lowered on production expectations. Projected 2024 turkey production and exports were adjusted up slightly on recent data. Projected turkey prices for 2024 were adjusted up on the strength of prices in May.

HSUS criticizes Vilsack for opposing California’s Proposition 12 in farm bill

The Humane Society of the US (HSUS) criticized USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for supporting the pork industry's efforts to override California's Proposition 12. This controversy has extended to the farm bill, a five-year plan for agricultural operations. The House Ag Committee recently passed a farm bill limiting states' and localities' ability to impose livestock production conditions outside their borders, a response to Prop 12, which bans the sale of pork not raised under specific animal welfare standards and prohibits gestation crates.

HSUS accused Vilsack of promoting zero-welfare pork producers and using the farm bill to dismantle Prop 12 and similar laws. The group urged the White House to intervene, stating Vilsack's actions could harm the administration's animal welfare policies. They argued that Vilsack is undermining the interests of thousands of farmers and major public health associations opposing the cruel confinement of farm animals.

NCBA responds to FDA study investigating the 2018 E. coli outbreak in Yuma, Arizona

The outbreak contaminated leafy greens, resulting in five deaths and over 200 illnesses in 38 states. The FDA found that air and dust, like water, could transfer pathogens like E. coli to produce, and that the proximity of produce farms to animal operations was a risk factor. However, NCBA emphasized that the E. coli strain was not found at a nearby cattle feeding operation, and the FDA study did not identify a specific contamination source. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall expressed concern over misinterpretations blaming the cattle industry, reaffirming the industry's commitment to food safety and compliance with regulations. He called for more scientific data and cautioned against premature conclusions.

H5N1 avian flu spread nationwide via cows, machinery, and people; USDA urges enhanced biosecurity

After the H5N1 avian flu virus jumped from birds to dairy cattle in Texas last December, it spread nationwide via infected cows, contaminated machinery, and people carrying the virus on their clothes and footwear, according to USDA scientists. Despite the low risk to the public, three dairy farm workers contracted mild cases, and the virus has been confirmed in 96 herds across 12 states, with Michigan and Idaho having the most infections. Since February 2022, the bird flu has also killed nearly 97 million birds in domestic flocks.

USDA officials stress the importance of enhanced biosecurity practices to control the virus spread. Reports identified multiple transmission pathways, including movement of infected cows, shared equipment, and frequent visits by veterinarians and other personnel to multiple farms. Genetic analysis ruled out migratory waterfowl as a factor in spreading the virus among cattle.

USDA has made financial assistance available to affected farms, with up to $28,000 per farm over three months, and 20 states are considering a voluntary USDA program to test milk for H5N1. While mortality among infected cows is low, older cows are more susceptible, showing symptoms like fever and reduced milk production.

Weekly USDA dairy report

CME GROUP CASH MARKETS (6/14) BUTTER: Grade AA closed at $3.0900. The weekly average for Grade AA is $3.0940 (-0.0100). CHEESE: Barrels closed at $2.0200 and 40# blocks at $1.9700. The weekly average for barrels is $2.0060 (+0.0510) and blocks $1.9445 (+0.0785). NONFAT DRY MILK: Grade A closed at $1.1925. The weekly average for Grade A is $1.1940 (+0.0045). DRY WHEY: Extra grade dry whey closed at $0.4700. The weekly average for dry whey is $0.4750 (+0.0305).

BUTTER HIGHLIGHTS: Domestic butter demand is steady in the Central and West regions. In the East region, retail demand is steady as well. However, food service demand is weak. Although cream availability is tightening to various degrees throughout the country, butter producers indicate cream volumes are generally able to meet processing needs. Butter production schedules are mixed. A few manufacturers report churning as strongly as possible due to upcoming equipment maintenance projects. Unsalted bulk butter loads continue to be somewhat tight. Bulk butter overages range from 1 to 10 cents above market, across all regions.

CHEESE HIGHLIGHTS: Contacts relay mixed cheese production schedules throughout the US. In the East, cheese production schedules are steady as processors are trying to make use of readily available milk supplies. Federal Milk Marketing Order 1 authorized temporary discarding of milk due to various handling obstacles. Cheesemakers in the Central region relay strong production schedules. Processors share they are manufacturing seasonally in[1]demand cheese varieties which has limited their capacity to process barrels. Cheese production is steady to lighter in the West. Milk volumes are noted to be tighter than in recent weeks as temperatures rise. Cheesemakers in the region note steady demand.

FLUID MILK: Contacts in the West and Central regions report farm level milk production is on the downward curve. The sole exception is in the Northeast, where contacts are reporting the strong spring push in production is just starting to level out. Condensed skim is more readily available in the Northeast, while contacts in other parts of the country say skim availability is beginning to level off. Class I demand is light to steady as many schools dismiss for summer break. Spot milk loads are tightening in the Central and West regions. Butter makers relay cream availability is beginning to seasonally tighten, particularly as ice cream manufacturers have begun to increase production. Cream multiples for all Classes are 1.12 - 1.41 in the East, 1.18 - 1.36 in the Midwest and 1.05 - 1.30 in the West.

DRY PRODUCTS: Low/medium heat nonfat dry milk (NDM) prices were mixed in the Central region, but moved higher in the West. Western contacts say international customers are buying for near-term needs, while domestic demand varies. Dry buttermilk prices moved higher across the regions during week 24. Buttermilk production has been busy this spring, but lighter milk output in a growing geographical swath of the United States has limited processing schedules in recent weeks, particularly in the West. Dry whole milk prices moved higher on steady demand and limited drying/availability. Dry whey prices moved higher across all regions. Shifts from drying condensed whey to the processing of higher protein concentrations continues to be a catalyst in keeping dry whey inventories in check. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) 34% prices moved lower. WPC 34% demand has been tepid, despite inventories not being noted as heavy. Lactose prices were unchanged this week, as processors share international interests remain steady. Both acid and rennet casein prices held steady during week 24.

ORGANIC DAIRY MARKET NEWS: The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) releases monthly export data which includes export volumes and values for organic milk categorized as HS-10 code 0401201000. Recently released data for April 2024 indicated organic milk exports were 136,395 liters, up 3.2 percent from the month prior, and up 37.5 percent from 2023. Exports of organic milk from the start of the year through April are up 12.8 percent, compared to the same time period one year ago. In a recent report from a Pacific Northwest livestock auction, the top 10 organic cull cows traded lower than conventional cull cows, while the overall average for organic cull cow prices traded lower than the overall average for conventional cull cows. The average price for the top 10 organic cows auctioned was $132.38 per hundredweight, compared to an average price of $149.29 per hundredweight for auctioned top 10 conventional cows. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is seeking nominations to fill five vacant spots, with terms beginning in January 2025. Board members represent specific sectors of the organic community and serve a 5-year term.

NATIONAL RETAIL REPORT: Total conventional dairy ads increased 1 percent, while organic dairy ads increased by 36 percent. Conventional cheese was the most advertised dairy commodity. Conventional ice cream in 48-64 ounce container was the most advertised single item. Organic milk in half-gallon containers was the most advertised single organic dairy item this week. As a commodity, conventional butter ads decreased 17 percent from the previous week.

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