LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Robots Come to the Slaughterhouse -- Market Talk

10:17 ET - No. 2 US chicken processor Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) followed competitor Tyson Foods (TSN) in bumping up wages for workers in some of its poultry plants this year, which executives say on 2Q conference call has added costs. But Pilgrim's is looking at a longer-term solution: robots, which it's already trying out for tasks like deboning the front half of chicken carcasses. The company is leaning on an investment by parent JBS in a New Zealand-based robotic company, and "we think we can combine vision technology and x-ray technology to make those jobs much easier for our team members," says CEO Bill Lovette. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Pilgrim's Pride Sanguine on Swinging Grain Markets -- Market Talk

9:58 ET - Grain markets have been up and down this summer, but chicken supplier Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) -- among the top buyers of grain to feed to the approximately 37 million chickens the company can process each week -- isn't worried about higher costs. Dry conditions have pushed up some grain prices, and rains have brought them down, but overall there's enough grain flowing off South American farms to keep global prices low, and keep much U.S.-produced grain on domestic markets. "We expect grain supplies to be more than sufficient for demand," says CEO Bill Lovette. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

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JBS Hires Former USDA Official to Head Food Safety

Brazilian meatpacking conglomerate JBS SA has hired a former head of food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as the company works to shore up its reputation and business following probes into corruption and food safety.

Alfred Almanza, who retired this week after nearly 40 years at the USDA, will become global head of food safety for JBS, a newly created position overseeing safety practices and quality assurance for the world's largest meatpacker by sales, the company said.

World Food Prices Up 2.3% in July Due to Rising Grain, Dairy, Sugar Prices

World food prices rose in July due to more expensive sugar, cereals, and dairy, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday.

The FAO's food price index increased by 2.3% last month from June, up 10.2% on its July 2016 level.

Japan's Beef Tariffs to Hit NZ Beef Prices -- Market Talk

0415 GMT - Japan's decision to increase tariffs on beef imports will wait on New Zealand beef prices as Japan is the highest paying market, says ASB Bank in a note. Japan earlier this week raised import tariffs to 50% from 38.5% on beef imports from a number of countries including New Zealand and the U.S. to control beef imports coming into the country. ASB says that New Zealand beef prices are going to struggle to reach NZ$6/kg as previously forecast and are instead likely to drift lower over the remainder of 2017. (lucy.craymer@wsj.com;Twitter: @lucy_craymer)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Rise on Cash Strength

Cattle futures rose after cash-market prices turned higher this week.

Meatpackers bought cattle for $1.18 a pound live late on Wednesday, up from sales of $1.16 a pound earlier in the day and an average of $1.17 a pound last week.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $52.00 - Aug 3

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today

are steady at $52.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $62.00-$65.00,

400-450 pounds are at $62.000-$65.00, 450-500 pounds are $62.00-$65.00 and

those over 500 pounds are $67.00-$69.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 100 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Aug 3

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Aug 3 +$26.88 +$ 77.18

Aug 2 +$29.00 +$ 77.72

Aug 1 +$32.57 +$ 80.79

* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production.

A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of

production of the animals.

Beef-O-Meter

This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite

values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices.

Beef

For Today Choice 103.4

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 103.3

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose 10 cents per hundred pounds, to $205.16, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose 36 cents per hundred pounds, to $197.78. The total load count was 103. Wholesale pork prices fell 25 cents, to $96.30 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 03, 2017 17:44 ET (21:44 GMT)