GFM Network News

U.S. packers saw record operating margins throughout last year, but cattle feeders and producers saw slim or even negative returns.

Hopes for a more normal year in the cattle industry

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

The North American beef industry started 2021 with cautious optimism of a return to normalized markets and pricing patterns. The industry especially hopes that even if the COVID-19 pandemic continues well into the year, markets will avoid the kind of extreme volatility seen last year. U.S. packers saw record operating margins throughout last year. But […] Read more

The pandemic magnified labour issues in meat processing sectors, but it was a major problem long before the virus came to the U.S.

Meat industry triumphs over COVID-19

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

The North American meat and poultry industry faced unprecedented challenges when the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak havoc throughout the continent last spring. The many ways the industry tackled these challenges and returned to a semblance of normalcy in such a short time is one of the greatest stories in the long history of the […] Read more

Processing capacity is not the issue

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Beef processing capacity and plant capacity utilization are two different subjects. So I have been fascinated in recent months how some in the U.S. beef industry have equated the two. Their argument is that temporary plant closures and slowdowns in April and early May revealed that the industry needs a lot more capacity, mostly through […] Read more

Cattle markets remain in recovery mode

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

The market for fed cattle in the U.S. is now out of intensive care. But it remains in recovery mode after the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on cattle prices from mid-April through mid-July. Prices advanced US$7.05 per cwt live (based on USDA’s five-area steer average) in the four weeks to the week ended October […] Read more

Several initiatives are currently underway that promote sustainable beef production practices.

Sustainability efforts in the beef industry growing

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Sustainability was likely a word that few in the North American beef industry uttered in everyday conversation 10 years ago. Today, the word is on everyone’s lips as producers and beef packers promote and develop new programs that increase the industry’s sustainability in the eyes of beef consumers. Cargill became the first North American packer […] Read more

Cattle hides take a tanning

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Cattle hides for many years added up to US$60 to the value of a fed steer or heifer and accounted for two-thirds of the value of all byproducts. But hide prices and the value began eroding in 2018 and have not recovered. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed any improvement in hide prices and the […] Read more

A bold new plant concept

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t quite bring North American beef processors to their knees in April-May. But many of the largest plants in Canada and the U.S. were forced to close temporarily or drastically reduce operations because of worker illnesses and absenteeism related to the virus. U.S beef plants one week ran at only 68 per […] Read more

Beef plants cannot operate efficiently without a steady supply of cattle from ranch to feedlot to plants.

Beef producers get a raw deal

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

North America’s cattle producers were the first in the beef chain to be impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 virus from epidemic to pandemic. Yet they are getting a raw deal from their national governments in terms of financial or other aid. The Canadian and U.S. governments were quick to declare that meatpacking was […] Read more

Being on the cusp of grilling season, the timing could not be worse.

COVID-19’s continuing chaos

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

As I write this on April 6, the April live cattle futures contract here in the U.S. has closed down its 450-point extended daily limit for the fourth day in a row. The contract closed at US$83.82 per cwt, thus losing 1,800 points in those four days. In contrast, the contract settled on February 21 […] Read more