Agricultural Commodity Update

The following market updates are designed to provide you greater insight into recent market developments and relative price movement.  Please bear in mind that commodity market prices do not always align with further processed ingredient pricing.

Corn

Corn pricing has skyrocketed in the past two plus months.  Corn pricing was close to $3.00/bushel in early Aug and is now over $4.00/bushel.

Much of the price strength is driven by a combination of shrinking global corn supplies with growing global demand.

Growth of corn demand is outpacing growth in production.  Also contributing to the price strength of US corn is a strong US export forecast, with an especially strong forecast for China.  Tighter global supplies only improve the prospects for additional exports, to China and elsewhere in the world.

In the USDA’s latest estimate of supply and demand, production estimates were reduced.  Projected ending stocks for the upcoming crop year were reduced 9%.

US corn harvest is continuing with 60% complete week ending 10/18.  Completing harvest and US exports will be watched closely by the industry and will drive future pricing of corn.

Soy Complex

Similar to corn, the price of soybeans has been on a strong upward trend since early August.  Price of soybeans in early August was as low as $8.70/bushel and it closed on 10/23 at $10.83 for a 24% increase.

Although the crop is large compared to last year, the latest USDA supply and demand report shows reduced production from last month.  Also usage is up significantly from last year.  The projected ending stocks for the upcoming crop year were reduced from last month and are now projected down 20% from the current crop year.

Soybean meal and Soybean oil pricing is driven by the supply and demand fundamentals of each component as much as the price of soybeans.  Both soybean meal and soybean oil pricing has been on a strong upward trend.  Meal pricing has followed the soybean price, rising significantly since August.  In early August, soybean meal pricing was as low as $280/ton and closed on 10/23 at $386/ton for an increase of 38%.  Soybean oil pricing has been on a more extended price rise, having risen steadily since April/May.  Pricing on 4/27 hit a recent low of $.2499/lb and pricing closed on 10/23 at $.3411/lb for a 36% increase.

 

Sugar

Both beet and cane sugar are forecasted for increased production in 2020/2021 crop year vs 2019/2020 crop year.  However, USDA uses import quota to target supply at approx. 13.5% stocks-to-use ratio, which is exactly where the latest supply and demand report has the stocks-to-use ratio at.

Pricing as reported in Milling and Baking magazine show pricing took a fairly sizable drop back in August but has recovered a little since then.  Cane sugar pricing was at $.46/lb from mid-March through early August.  It then dropped to $.3975/lb but has inched up to $.41/lb currently.  This pricing reflects bulk sugar that does not have packaging costs, freight, and other ancillary costs included.

Additionally, supplies have been tight, and although there are reported offerings at this price, securing supply of significant quantities must also be considered.

 

Dairy Powders   

Non-Fat Dry Milk prices have been on an upward trend since mid-May increasing approx. 34% on average.

Whey pricing has been on an opposite trend, decreasing since mid-May until September.  Prices reversed and have increased 14% since early September.

Black Pepper

Black Pepper prices have been steady at relatively low prices historically.  But they may be poised for price strength.  Viet Nam’s 2020 crop is selling well and dwindling.  Global demand is strong.  2021 crop will not be available until mid-2021.  Exporters including Viet Nam are asking for higher prices and are can hold offerings to achieve this.

Garlic

The US garlic harvest is complete or nearly so. US garlic producers are well sold if not completely sold out on crop availability.  Suppliers are limiting sales to contracted volumes and there is little to no additional availability.  Prices are being increased significantly reflecting limited supply.

Supplies of Chinese garlic appear to be good although tightness of US supplies could drive increased demand of Chinese garlic.  Pricing has been relatively stable but could be on the rise as demand increases.  Also, as has been the case in the past, speculators are buying and holding available inventory in anticipation of higher prices.

Onion

U.S. onion harvest is continuing towards completion.  Like garlic, onion availability is extremely tight. Also, like garlic, onion suppliers are limiting sales to contracted volumes and additionally supplies are very difficult to come by.  Onion solids and yields are down contributing to lower availability as well as extremely strong demand.   There are also COVID related expenses that processors are incurring.  All of this is driving significant price increases.

Skidmore Sales & Distributing Acquires H&W Ingredients and Dayton Foods, Brookfield, Illinois

We are pleased to announce we have entered into an agreement to acquire H&W Ingredients and Dayton Foods, located in Brookfield, Illinois, effective November 1, 2020. You may know H&W under its original name, Higgins & White.  This transaction brings together two outstanding teams that share a continuous dedication to top-notch customer service and providing ingredient solutions and technical expertise.

H&W and Dayton Foods represent many of the industry’s top fruit, nut, and vegetable producers, including Ocean Spray, Del Monte, Sunny Gem, Wyman’s and Tree Top.  Founded more than 30 years ago, H&W Ingredients has several food scientists and a culinary chef on staff, offering a variety of technical services to their customers.  In addition to their Illinois headquarters, the company has regional salespeople in Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado and North Carolina. The added product lines, and impressive distribution footprint these new suppliers bring will prove very complimentary to those of Skidmore, Essex and Processor’s Choice.

“Adding H&W Ingredients, and Dayton Foods to the Skidmore Enterprise is very exciting,” said Skidmore Sales & Distributing Owner and CEO, Doug Skidmore. “Both H&W and Skidmore have built strong reputations for representing and partnering with the industry’s best food ingredients suppliers, with an unrivaled technical support and customer-centric approach to doing business.  H&W’s passion for excellence, quality, teamwork and integrity are a reflection of our own Skidmore core values. Our vision is to be the food industry’s top-rated ingredient distributor. By expanding our distribution footprint, we can now serve more customers across the country.”

“We are extremely proud of the accomplishments H&W Ingredients and Dayton Foods have achieved since our inception in 1989. In alignment with our dedication to employees, customers and suppliers, we are joining forces with Skidmore Sales & Distributing. Equipped with new resources and capabilities, we look forward to our collective growth and success,” added Michael Cronin and Bill White.

This announcement does not change the day-to-day operations of each company.  H&W Ingredients and Dayton Foods will be wholly owned and independent subsidiaries of Skidmore and remain located in Brookfield, IL. Their names will not change.  All H&W and Dayton Foods employees will remain on staff and committed to providing the same excellent service their customers have grown accustomed to.

See the complete press release here.