PEDV cases: The number of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) cases reported for the first week of March was 274, down slightly from the total for the first week of February but still the fifth-largest weekly total since last spring. Arizona reported its first confirmed case of PEDV last week, which now makes the virus present in 27 states.
Higher meat prices: Tyson Foods chief executive officer Donnie Smith told the Goldman Sachs Agribusiness Conference that consumers should be prepared to pay more for meat in the grocery store as both beef and pork prices continue to climb.
Milk in China: Although China's dairy industry is ramping up, the country's milk shortage will continue for at least a decade, according to investor Mark Schwartz, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Group. The production per cow is low while feed costs are high, and milk quality is also a concern.
Breakfast protein: Taco Bell announced that it will start serving breakfast later this month, including a waffle taco and other offerings that could add to the strain on pork supplies. Starbucks is also introducing four new lower-calorie sandwiches that could help boost cheese sales.
Grocery survey: A recent Wall Street Journal weekly survey of grocery store ads showed a mixed report on meat and poultry prices at the retail level. The 15-cut average for beef was $4.78/lb., up from $4.55 the previous week and $4.26 a year ago. Ground beef prices also rose 19 cents to an average $3.46/lb. Pork prices overall were varied, but the five-cut average came in at $2.76/lb., compared with $3.10/lb. the week before. Although prices of whole fryer chickens were up the previous week, chicken prices, on average, declined. The average price of boneless, skinless chicken breasts dropped to $2.21/lb., while the two-cut average price for chicken fell 13 cents to $1.80/lb.