LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Meat Alternatives Seek to Work With Meatpackers -- Food Forum Market Talk

10:29 ET - Startups developing plant-based meat alternatives and actual meat grown from animal cells aim to remake the meat industry, replacing many feedlots and chicken barns with new technology they say is more efficient and humane. But the startups also look for traditional meat companies to help them, says Uma Valeti, CEO of Memphis Meats, developing cell-based proteins. Meat companies like Cargill and Tyson Foods have invested in some of the startups, and "it's really important they view us as allies... we're building a big tent," Valeti says at WSJ Global Food Forum event. "These are companies that have seen the evolution of food." (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

With Meat Alternatives, Some Ask 'Where's the Beef?' -- Food Forum Market Talk

16:05 ET - Some startups aim to revamp the meat business by developing plant-based alternatives that taste like the real thing, or growing pork, beef and chicken meat from animal cells. They've won investment from some top meat processors, like Cargill and Tyson Foods (TSN), but some in the traditional meat industry have reservations. "Using meat in the name is very misleading," says Suzanne Strassburger, CEO of Strassburger Steaks LLC, on the sidelines of the WSJ Global Food Forum. Strassburger says she supports efforts to feed a growing population, but says the quality and taste of traditionally raised meat "is not something you can replicate in a petri dish." (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

New Tech Aims to Disrupt Cattle Ranches -- Food Forum Market Talk

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9:50 ET - Meat companies' efforts to breed livestock and poultry that gain more weight on less feed hasn't changed one of the basic sustainability arguments against the industry: using grain to fatten up animals isn't the most efficient use of farmland, says Ethan Brown, CEO of plant-based meat company Beyond Meat. "As a conversion mechanism they're highly outdated," Brown, speaking at WSJ Global Food Forum, says of beef cattle and hogs, likening meat animals to antiquated food technology that is destined to go the way of the horse-drawn carriage. In addition to plant-based versions, other companies are developing meat using animal cells, which they also say is more efficient. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Take Time on Slow-Growing Chickens, Tyson Says -- Food Forum Market Talk

11:40 ET - Some food companies and retailers, like Whole Foods, have backed slower-growing chickens following criticism of the meat industry's reliance on top-heavy birds bred for rapid growth. Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes says at WSJ Global Food Forum that the top US meatpacker is trying to weigh all sides of the matter -- for instance, slower-growing chickens will consume more feed and water, and they need to be kept healthy. "We're looking at what we can do that doesn't require us to make those tradeoffs," he says. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Forget Burger Wars, Now It's a Chicken War -- Market Talk

11:54 ET - Fast food chains often engage in burger wars, with copycat products at cut-rate prices. Now, they're engaging in a chicken war. Burger King is introducing spicy chicken nuggets aimed at a similar product that Wendy's just launched. To further undercut its competitor, Burger King is giving them away to anyone named Wendy from noon until closing time on Oct. 13 at certain restaurants. Burger King's 10-piece nuggets will sell for a suggested price of $1.49, while Wendy's new chicken tenders served with a tangy sauce, small fries and small drink will cost $5. The move underscores the competitive nature of the fast-food market at a time of restaurant oversupply and tightened consumer spending on food away from home. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

Small Farmers Grapple With Consumer Demands -- Food Forum Market Talk

15:40 ET - Farmers struggle with consumers' aversion to technology, complaining that they are "schizophrenic" in wanting high-tech medicine and surgery, but not high-tech seeds or farm equipment. "People think because cows are being milked by robots, it's a bad thing," said Craig Fink of Fink Farms. But he'll cater to the consumers, even if it doesn't make sense to him. "It doesn't matter what we want to do, everything we will end up doing is because the consumer is going to dictate what it is we are going to do and how we are going to do it," he says. (annie.gasparro@wsj.com)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Hit Two-Month High

Cattle futures rose to the highest close since early August on strong demand for beef and technical support.

Meatpackers late last week paid higher prices for slaughter-ready cattle, sparking a rally in the futures market this week. That helped live cattle contracts find technical momentum and leapfrog their most recent highs.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn., Hog $1.00 Higher at $33.00 - Oct 10

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $1.00 higher at $33.00 per hundredweight. Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $27.00; 400-450 pounds are at $27.00; 450-500 pounds are $27.00 and those over 500 pounds are $29.00-$31.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 125 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Oct 10

This report reflects U.S. pork packer processing margins. The margin indices

are calculated using current cash hog or carcass values and wholesale pork

cutout values and may not reflect actual margins at the plants. These

estimates reflect the general health of the industry and are not meant to

be indicative of any particular company or plant.

Source: USDA, based on Wall Street Journal calculations

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Oct 10 +$32.53 +$ 26.57

Oct 9 +$34.10 +$ 26.70

Oct 6 +$33.95 +$ 24.76

* 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 107.8

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 108.9

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Tuesday fell 73 cents per hundred pounds, to $197.40, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.36 per hundred pounds, to $190.02. The total load count was 123. Wholesale pork prices fell 6 cents, to $72.76 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 10, 2017 17:43 ET (21:43 GMT)