Food Waste a World Problem of Concern to Japan


During the past two weeks, Barbara and I have been traveling in Japan reviewing supermarkets, interacting with consumers, scanning English-language newspapers and absorbing the ethos of a culture that in many respects is very different to our own.  There are however some similarities and common issues including protection of the environment and sustainability that need to be addressed among all economically advanced nations. 


The May 19th edition of the Japan Times featured a front-page article on initiatives to reduce food waste.  The United Nations Food and Culture Organization estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food was wasted in 2018.  Japan estimates that six million tons of edible product is discarded annually by a population of 128 million. 


To resolve any problem it is necessary to understand the metrics and contributory factors.  The retail sector in Japan was responsible for 0.6 million tons of wastage in 2017.  Food manufacturing and the restaurant sectors each contributed 1.35 million tons with households responsible for 40 percent or close to 3 million tons of discarded food.  In the context of Japan it is important to recognize that “freshness” is an important attribute in the motivation to purchase, consume or discard food.  The problem of indiscriminate wastage was emphasized by a directive from the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Government of Japan who stated, “Reducing food loss means less waste of natural resources and it is also important from a standpoint of easing burdens on companies and households.”  The Government will coordinate the activities of various ministries to “deal with a challenge”. 


Sadanobu Takemasu, president of Lawson Station, a major retail chain stated, “Food loss is a big problem domestically and globally so convenience stores also need to confront the issue.”  He estimates that ten percent of his company’s rice balls and lunch boxes, popular in Japan are discarded as waste.  Traditional mores in Japan will have to be changed to resolve problems inherent to their society.  Although portions served in restaurants are relatively small compared to the U.S. the concept of doggie bags is completely unknown in Japan.   A representative of a restaurant group stated, “It’s up to the customers whether or not they finish their meals.”


The Government of Japan has set a target to reduce waste by 50 percent from a 2000 base over the next ten years.  This will require changes in attitude by consumers at the household level. Improvements in food distribution are required to provide longer shelf-life and freshness of produce and especially fish which comprises a disproportionately higher contribution to the Japanese diet than in the U.S. 


It is possible that new food processing technology could reduce organoleptic deterioration while maintaining nutritional quality and extending shelf life. The simple expedient of lowering prices near to expiry dates has reduced the volume of food discarded by the Lawson Station chain and presumably followed by major competitor 7-Eleven Holdings. Since the population of Japan is far less individualistic than in the U.S. and recognizes common societal needs, effective leadership and publicity will result in concerted efforts to resolve the problem for the common good.


Recognizing problems such as food wastage and analyzing its causes are important precursors to developing appropriate solutions.  Comparison among nations leads to innovative approaches and contributes to alleviating poverty and starvation which affect one-tenth of the world’s population.


Egg Industry News

Updated USDA Projections for 2018 and 2019 U.S. Egg Production


The USDA Economic Research Service issued an updated forecast of egg production on May 16th, following the previous April 16 th report. The volume of eggs produced and per capita consumption in 2019 were increased by 2.9 and 1.4 percent respectively compared to revised 2018 data. Consistent with this disparity, the benchmark New York price was reduced by 18.0 percent in unit value Production data reflecting 2016 and 2017 should be compared to 2015, impacted by the Spring outbreak of HPAI in the upper-Midwest. The price elasticity of eggs is denoted by the disparity in the decline in the New York price benchmark relative to forecast volume of production. The latest data is reflected in the table below:-














2018 2019 Difference % 2020

(actual) (forecast) 2018 to 2019 (projection)





Production (m. dozen)




7,952 8,183 +2.9% 8,270


Consumption (eggs per capita)




284.1 291.7 +2,7% 292.8

New York price (c/doz.)




138 87 -37.0% 105


Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook -May 16th 2019

*Impacted by Spring 2015 HPAI outbreaks. Consumption in 2014, 267 eggs per capita

Subscribers to EGG-NEWS are referred to the postings depicting weekly prices, volumes and trends and the monthly review of prices and related industry statistics.


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, May 23rd 2019.

  • Hen Numbers in Production Down by a Significant 5.9 Million to 329.8 million.
  • Decrease in Shell Inventory by 1.8 Percent following a 2.3 Percent Decline in Past Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Medium Large Down 6.6; 6.8 and 7.0 Percent Respectively Compared to Past Week.
  • Breaking Stock Price Down 7.3 Percent and Checks by 36.4 percent. Both Categories Substantially Below Cost of Production



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on May 20 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were down 6.6 and 6.8 percent respectively compared to the past week. Mediums were down 7.0 percent. The progression of prices during 2019 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The May 20th USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 66: No. 20) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.50 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending May 13 th and reflects the sharply lower early summer prices during that week despite a slightly lower stock level. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.44 per dozen, below the cost of production. At the high end of the range, price in the Southeast Region attained $0.57 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was $0.43 per dozen below the three-year average and $0.44 per dozen below the corresponding week in 2018 which fell sharply after Easter.


Review of April 2019 Production Costs and Statistics.


The review of USDA statistics for March and April released in May and posted in a previous edition of EGG-NEWS is revised by incorporation of the commentary on data. This was not included previously due to restraints associated with internet connectivity during travel to Japan.


Review of April 2019 Production Costs and Statistics.

  • April 2019 USDA Ex-Farm Benchmark Price Down 34.6 Percent from March 2019 to 39.7 cents per dozen Consistent with Seasonal Trends and Oversupply.

  • April 2019 USDA Average Nest-run Production Cost 1.4 Percent Lower than March 2019 at 59.5 cents per dozen.

  • April 2019 USDA Benchmark Nest-run Margin Decreased from March 2019 to Loss of 19.8 cents per dozen.

  • April National Flock ( over 30,000 hens/farm) Up 6 million or 1.9 percent to 325.3 million.



Summary tables for the latest USDA April 2019 prices and flock statistics made available by the EIC on May 12th 2019 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous April 9th 2019 posting reflecting March 2019 cost and production data.




The following quotations for May and July as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on Thursday May 17th together with values for the previous week in parentheses. Last week the commodities market recorded an increase in the futures price of corn, a sharp decline for soybeans and an almost static price for soybean meal delivered in July and September. This was attributed to the unexpected imposition of tariffs on goods to be imported from China in response to alleged backtracking by that nation leading to a lack of progress in bilateral trade negotiations to settle the ongoing dispute. Optimism leading to increases in commodity prices two weeks ago was apparently premature. The negative effect of the release of the USDA Grain Stocks Report on Friday March 29th documenting soybean stocks followed by the May WASDE #588 confirmed the effect of reduced shipments of soybeans to China. The numerous conflicting statements by White House spokespersons over the months since the dispute began is disconcerting to the commodities market and contributes to fluctuation in prices.



Corn (cents per bushel)

July 383 (362 May)

Sept. 390 (370 July)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

July 821 (830 May)

Sept. 834 (843 July)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

July 294 (292 May)

Sept. 297 (297 July)

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


Corn: July quotation up 21 cents per Bu from May   (+5.8 percent)

Soybeans: July quotation down 9 cents per Bu        (-1.1 percent)

Soybean Meal: July quotation up $2 per ton.            (-0.7 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 0.40 cent per dozen

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


The USDA Crop Progress Report for the week ending May 6th noted that 23 percent of the corn crop had been planted, compared to a five-year average of 46 percent. Six percent of the corn crop has emerged compared to the five-year average of 13 percent.

Six percent of the soybean crop has been planted, compared to the five-year average of 14 percent

The March 29th USDA Grain Stocks Report, issued Quarterly confirmed a 3.2 percent decline in corn stocks in all positions to 8.60 billion Bu. compared to the March 2018 report. Farm storage represented 59.6 percent of this total, 2.5 percent higher than for the corresponding period in 2018.

Soybean stocks increased by 28.7 percent from March 2018 to 2.716 billion Bu. in March 2019. On- farm storage attained 1.270 billion Bu. representing 46.7 percent of all stocks. On-farm storage was 48.5 percent higher in March 2019 compared to 2018 reflecting the intent of farmers to hold stocks in anticipation of a rise in price following resumption of exports to China.

Negotiations with China are apparently at an impasse unless China makes extensive, durable and firm concessions as suggested following shuttles between Beijing and Washington that will continue as high-level discussions in the U.S. this week. Some concessions have been made by China on coercive trade practices and dispute resolution as amplified by President Xi addressing participants in a Belt and Road Conference this past week but apparently not to the satisfaction of the White House. From an agricultural industry perspective the question of delays by China in approving new GM cultivars has yet to be settled. No date has been set for a summit to sign a trade deal although the Presidents of China and the U.S. are scheduled to meet at the G20 Summit in Japan in June. Prices will be influenced by the trend in stock levels, area to be planted in 2019 and early crop progress in the face of possible flooding.

According to the May 8th 2018 WASDE Report #588, 85.4 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2019 to produce 15.0 billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.15 billion bushels from 87.8 million acres harvested. The levels of production for the two commodities are based on preliminary pre-planting projections of yield and crop progress. Ending stocks were revised based on anticipated domestic use and exports.

See the WASDE posting summarizing the May 8th USDA-WASDE Report #588 under the STATISTICS tab documenting price projections and quantities of commodities to be produced, used and exported from the 2019 harvest.

Unless shipments of corn and soybeans to China resume in volume, as anticipated, the financial future for row-crop farmers appears bleak despite the release of two tranches amounting to $8 billion as "short-term" compensation for producers of commodities. A further $20 billion compensation is anticipated.

Late-May will be make-or-break for negotiations with China. The outcome has profound implications not only for the two antagonists but for the World economy.


Status of Corn and Soybean Crops


The USDA Crop Progress Report released on May 20th documented the status of the 2019 corn and soybean harvest.


Planting of both corn and soybeans was delayed in many states by heavy spring rains and flooding


EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS will report on the progress of the two crops and will post weekly updates through the end of the harvest.




Week Ending

Crop Parameter

        May 12

         May 19

5-Year Average

Corn Planted




Corn Emerged








Soybeans Planted




Soybeans Emerged









Passing of Arthur Papetti


EGG-NEWS regrets to record the passing of Arthur Papetti on May 2nd at the age of 87.


Born into the family business which became Papetti’s Hygrade Poultry and Eggs, he and his brother Tony concentrated on egg production and distribution.  He was a pioneer in egg processing and built a business on satisfying needs for specific egg liquid products.


He was a board member of the Prepared Food Association, the United Egg Association, the New Jersey Poultry Association and other industry-related organizations.  He received Urner Barry Man of the Year award, the Golden Egg Award and was regarded highly in the industry.


Cargill to Recall Southern States® Feed Due to Elevated Aflatoxins Level


Cargill Animal Nutrition is recalling feeds under the Southern States® brand due to the presence of aflatoxins.  Products were recalled during the first quarter of 2019 and involved equine and poultry formulations.


Products were manufactured at the Cleveland, NC plant and distributed in northeast and Mid - Atlantic States. The recall was initiated following notification of violative levels by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.  No adverse effects have been reported.


Information circular on HPAI available to travelers entering Japan



Val-Co® Launches E-Commerce Val-Co Store


Val-Co has established an E-commerce website www.val-co.store to supply a range of watering, feeding, ventilation components and repair parts. New products include nipples, rebuild kits for regulators, bin bottom conversion kits, fans, vent actuators and numerous electronic components for ventilation, feeding and watering systems.


First Quarter Egg Production in Brazil Higher than in 2018


According to a report from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics egg production in Brazil attained 908 million dozen (30.2 million cases) during Q1 of 2019, approximately 5.5 percent higher than the corresponding quarter of Fiscal 20018.


The Brazil-Arab News Agency reported exports of one percent of eggs produced  by Brazil to Middle East nations during the first quarter of 2019, an advance of 7 percent over Q1, 2018.


National Retail Federation Opposed to Increasing Tariffs on Goods from China


The National Retail Federation (NRF) has released a statement opposing the imposition of 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods that have yet to be included in the round of mutually punitive tariffs.  In a statement by Matthew Shay, CEO of the NRF the organization noted, “We support the Administration’s efforts to deliver a meaningful trade agreement that levels the playing field for American businesses and workers” He added “the latest tariff escalation is far too great a gamble for the U.S. economy.” 


The NRF statement included, “Taxing Americans on everyday products like clothes and shoes is not the answer for holding China accountable.  Working with our allies who share the same concerns and immediately rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership are more effective ways to put pressure on China without hurting hardworking Americans.”  A study commissioned by a pro-business group, “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” has projected that placing a 25 percent tariff on all remaining imports from China would result in up to two million American jobs losses, will cost the average family $2,300 each year and lower GDP by one percent.


Contributors to the CNBC Before the Bell program on May 21st predicted that existing tariffs are now being placed on current purchases and that proposed escalation or extension would result in store closures. In quarterly reports and analyst calls CEOs are already warning of lower margins and predicting impacts on the bottom line as a result of trade disputes.


Target Reports on Q1 of FY 2019


In a press release dated March 22nd Target Corporation (TGT) announced results for the 1st Quarter of Fiscal 2019 ending May 4th.

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 $ x 1,000 except EPS)

1st Quarter Ending

May 4th 2019

May 5th 2018

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



Consensus expectations for TGT were:- Revenue $17.32 billion; EPS of $1.43 and same-store sales growth of 4.2 percent.

52-Week Range in Share Price: $ 60.15 to $90.39

Market post-release noon May 22nd $78.48 up 9.1 percent

Forward P/E 12.7 Beta 1.0

Comparable store sales growth in Q1 2019 attained 4.8 percent compared to 3.0 percent in Q1 2018

Traffic increased 4.3 percent in Q1 2019 compared to 3.7 percent for Q1 2018

Effective May 4th 2019 TGT operated 1,851 stores with an area of 239,797 ft2

In commenting on Q1 results Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO stated "Target had an outstanding first quarter, as our team delivered a great experience for our guests and drove strong growth in traffic, comparable sales, operating income and earnings per share," He added "over the last two years we have made important investments to build a durable operating and financial model that drives consumer relevance and sustainable growth. Target's first quarter performance and market-share gains demonstrate that the model is working. Throughout this year, we will continue to extend the reach of our same-day fulfillment options, strengthen our portfolio of owned and exclusive brands, remodel and open more stores and invest in our team. We're confident that we're well-positioned to deliver strong financial performance in 2019 and beyond."

TGT issued EPS guidance for Q2 corresponding to a range of $1.52 to $1.72.


Whole Foods Testing Convenience Store Concept in New York City


In a continuing effort to capture sales and establish an optimal model, Whole Foods Market has developed a convenience store concept termed Whole Foods Market Daily Shop. The test of the concept is located adjacent to a Whole Foods store in Chelsea New York City. True to the Whole Foods DNA, the Market Daily Shop will offer organic products and local items. The store includes a fresh food section, juices and pastry, sandwiches, soups and salads. Customers can order and consume items in store. This appears to be a hybrid convenience store/QSR/mini-market appealing to a high-income urban demographic.


Sparboe Foods Sells Iowa Operation


In a May 17th release, Sparboe Foods announced the sale of its New Hampton, IA plant to Deb El Food Products. Sparboe will continue to operate shell egg production and packing in their home base of Minnesota in addition to complexes in Iowa and Colorado.

Beth Schnell, CEO of Sparboe thanked New Hampton employees for years of dedication and service emphasizing that her company will focus on the shell egg business.

Elliot Gibber, president and CEO of Deb El Food Products stated “This purchase will position us to significantly accelerate our progress in achieving our vision of being a world-class and trusted supplier of high-quality egg products”. Deb El operates processing facilities in New Jersey and New York.


Whole Foods to Reduce Plastic Packaging


Effective July 2019, Whole Foods Market will eliminate plastic straws and replace PET rotisserie chicken containers in stores in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. It is expected that these changes will reduce plastic destined for disposal by 400 tons annually.

A. C. Gallo, president and Chief Merchandising Officer for Whole Foods Market stated “We recognize that single-use plastics were a concern for many of our customers, team members and suppliers and we are proud of changes in packaging and we will continue to look for additional opportunities to further reduce plastic across our stores”. Previously Whole Foods Market eliminated Styrofoam meat trays and disposable plastic grocery bags at checkout counters.


CDC Documents Salmonella Outbreaks from Backyard Chickens


In a May 16th release, the CDC reported on incident cases of salmonellosis in owners of backyard chicken flocks. The report noted 52 cases in 21 states with five hospitalizations. A quarter of the cases involved children under five years of age. The most likely vehicles of infection were day- old chicks and a few ducklings purchased from agricultural stores and mail-order hatcheries.

The CDC issued the usual precautions regarding preventing direct contact with live poultry, confining birds to the exterior of a home and handwashing after handling chicks. Although these common sense precautions will reduce the possibility of infection, chicks and duckling are usually brooded inside a home and are handled by children. The increase in incidence rate of chick and duckling-derived salmonellosis is attributed to injudicious purchase over Easter.


Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue Visited Japan and South Korea


In a mid-May promotional trip to Japan and South Korea, Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Sonny Perdue met with his counterparts to discuss exports of U.S. farm products. The meetings followed discussions on trade issues and will continue with preparations for the proposed meeting between Prime Minister Abe of Japan and the President.

The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement was reviewed. A specific topic included the application of science-based decision-making criteria in establishing policy following outbreaks of catastrophic diseases.

The USAPEEC arranged receptions for Dr. Perdue in both nations.


Zoetis Placed on Fortune 500 List


The 65th Annual Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies ranked by total revenues includes Zoetis for the first time ranking #487. The threshold for inclusion on the list is $5.6 billion in revenue.

Zoetis has a market capitalization of $49 billion and traded over a range of $78.90 to $103.97 over the past 52-weeks. The Company has a trailing 12-month operating margin of 31.4 percent and a net profit margin of 23.5 percent.  For the first quarter of FY 2019 Zoetis posted a net income of $312 million on sales of $1.455 Billion


Alltech Appoints Senior Managers


Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech Inc., has announced a series of senior management appointments. In the Alltech release, Dr. Lyons stated “The depth of experience and industry know-how of the four new team members is the passion they share for advancing agriculture, empowering our customers and delivering on our shared vision of a planet of plenty”. Lyons added “They have an authentic connection to our company culture and most importantly they bring great strength of character to our leadership”. The appointees are:

  • Brian McCawley, Senior Vice President of Sales focusing on North America.
  • Mike Osborne, Key Account Advisor will be responsible for advancing sales of additives in North America.
  • Christopher Speight, Chief Financial Officer for the Americas

Jonathan Forrest Wilson, President of Alltech Greater China


USPOULTRY Foundation Approves a Grant to Investigate False Layer Syndrome


The University of Georgia will receive a grant from the USPOULTRY Foundation in part provided by a gift from Cargill to investigate the cause and prevention of false layer syndrome. This condition first described in the 1960s, re-emerged in the U.S and Canada sporadically in 2017 and is attributed to exposure of pullets to specific strains of infectious bronchitis.

Introduction of routine vaccination of pullets at the hatchery with infectious bronchitis strain Ma5 appears to provide sufficient protection and together with subsequent live and inactivated vaccines has resolved the problem. Notwithstanding the current situation, a detailed study into the pathogenesis of the condition and the specific strains of infectious bronchitis virus involved will be beneficial to the industry, especially if the condition reappears or if other strains of infectious bronchitis emerge affecting the urogenital system.


Eggs Served as Street Snacks in Japan


Vendors in markets serve fried eggs on a formed vegetable base eaten from a small tray. Price equivalent to $3 per serving


Egg Packs in Japan


Eggs are marketed in PET 10-packs under refrigeration in small urban supermarkets, basically large convenience stores at $2.20 to $3.00 per pack


Unique Egg Pack in Japan


Eggs at a rural store in Japan packed in a round PET container with cells and plastic net. Detailed nutritional data imprinted on label indicating a ten-day shelf life consistent with preoccupation with “freshness” in Japan. Displayed under refrigeration at $2.20 per 10 eggs.



Commercial Banks in China Experiencing Dollar Squeeze


The combined dollar liabilities at the four biggest banks in China now exceed their dollar holdings. The institutions comprise the Bank of China, Agriculture Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the China Construction Bank.  At the end of 2008, the Bank of China was $70 billion in deficit but claimed that off balance sheet dollar assets covered the shortfall.  The three other banks collectively showed a dollar surplus on their balance sheets amounting to approximately $15 billion.


Banks in China require dollars since currency derivatives mature within 12 months requiring regular renewal.  China is active in the swap market with other central banks but does not have an agreement with the U.S. Federal Reserve. 


China is however in no danger of embarrassment over the shortfall of dollars since the Central Government apparently holds $3.1 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and would come to the aid of any quasi-commercial bank all of which operate with close state supervision.  The dollar is still regarded as the most significant currency for international trade with many commodities including oil and gold bear dollar denominations.  The Chinese yuan is not universally accepted and conversion is difficult.


If a trade agreement is negotiated, China may still show a preference towards Brazil and Argentina for purchases of soybeans and other commodities if they can pay with their own currency or effect a state-sponsored barter transaction.  Clearly if the magic wand could resolve trade differences immediately, the U.S. may not reclaim the Chinese export market which has been profoundly eroded.  This has implications for the agricultural sector.  Prices of soybeans and hence meal will remain depressed and this will influence production costs for all monogastric livestock. Perhaps we will never revert to pre-trade war equilibrium. Belgian endives anybody?


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
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