Livestock Highlights: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

Value Meals Drive McDonald's Sales - 2nd Update

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McDonald's Corp. gained sales again by luring core customers to its cheapest meals and drinks.

The burger giant attributed U.S. sales growth in the fourth quarter to a "McPick 2" meal deal and low-price beverages, as well as to higher-priced Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. The chain introduced a new nationwide value menu this month with items priced at $1, $2 and $3, hoping consumers drawn in for cheap sodas and burgers will also order more expensive items.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Food Union Hails USDA Move on Chicken Plants -- Market Talk

12:06 ET -- United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents meat plant employees, claims victory after the U.S. Department of Agriculture rejected a U.S. chicken industry petition to eliminate poultry processing line speed caps in meat plants. The organization and other consumer groups opposed the request, saying it could make food less safe and pose risks to meat plant workers, who already deal with higher rates of injury than other industries. The union says it remains "concerned" that the USDA plans to let some chicken plants apply to run processing lines at speeds up to 175 birds a minute, with most currently capped at 140. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

USDA Pumps Brakes on Faster Chicken Processing -- Market Talk

12:01 ET -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture denies a request by the National Chicken Council to lift all limits on how fast poultry plants can process birds--but the agency says it does plan to let some plants speed up. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says the chicken industry group's Sept. 1 petition to eliminate speed limits in chicken plants didn't demonstrate that inspectors could effectively check each carcass for safety at speeds beyond 175 birds a minute--nearly three chickens a second. But FSIS said that the agency plans to lay out criteria for poultry plants, most of which are limited to processing 140 chickens each minute, to run at speeds up to 175, as long as they demonstrate how they will assess food safety and meet other criteria. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Wheat Futures Pop on Plains Drought

A drought in the Great Plains sparked a rally in wheat prices on Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the condition of the hard red winter wheat crop, primarily grown in southern Plains states like Kansas, dropped sharply as farmers in the region struggle through dry conditions.

FUTURES MARKETS

Live Cattle Futures Ease

Cattle futures were mixed on Tuesday, easing off multimonth highs.

The futures market started the week by hitting a two-month high, after cash prices for physical cattle rose more than expected. But analysts say futures bumped up against selling pressure after falling from those highs, with chart signals suggesting to traders that prices were headed lower.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $44.00 - Jan 30

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $44.00 a hundredweight. Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $43.00, 450-500 pounds are $43.00 and those over 500 pounds are $45.00-$47.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 180 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Jan 30

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

*

Jan 30 +$20.58 +$ 45.01

Jan 29 +$20.88 +$ 45.57

Jan 26 +$22.51 +$ 45.96

* 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 108.5

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 108.2

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Tuesday rose 58 cents per hundred pounds, to $209.69, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose 24 cents per hundred pounds, to $204.37. The total load count was 109. Wholesale pork prices fell 26 cents, to $81.34 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 30, 2018 17:31 ET (22:31 GMT)

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