April 19th, 2018

Alerts & What’s Trending

  • Eggs recalled over Salmonella concerns Products from Rose Acres were linked to 22 illnesses.
  • Ready-to-eat salad products recalled for possible E. coli contamination Lettuce in the salad is suspected of being contaminated.
  • USDA’s food recall roundup A decade-long study finds that recalls have increased, especially those related to allergens.
  • Report tallies the costs of foodborne illness outbreaks The costs restaurants will incur as the result of a foodborne illness outbreak can range from several thousand dollars to several million, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Our study shows that a single foodborne illness outbreak can incur substantial costs, enough to compose a large portion of a restaurant’s annual profits,” the study says.
  • Restaurant execs share tips for keeping costs under control Costs for food, labor and new technology can be challenging for restaurants looking to shore up the bottom line, restaurant executives said during a panel discussion this week. Third-party delivery can also be costly, but eateries that decide to take delivery in-house need to be prepared to “do it better than third parties,” said Carin Stutz, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Red Robin.
  • Styrofoam Bans Across The Nation: Here’s What Your Restaurant Should Know Styrofoam bans are sweeping across the nation, cities and towns are banning the use of styrofoam left and right. With more bans coming into place, restaurants that are known for takeout and drinks to go will have to evolve…keep reading
  • 5 delivery lessons for restaurants Issues relating to the off-premise boom were clearly top of mind for Restaurant Leadership Conference attendees. Here are five insights from the conference’s opening day.
  • Cost-cutting tips for spring menus As the season changes, restaurants kick their operations into full swing with the promise of busy shifts and new menus ahead. Below are some tips that will help operators maximize their profits and customer satisfaction on the swing into Spring.


Most of the Vegetable Markets out of the Salinas Valley in California are in good supply and good quality. As of now, Romaine, Romaine Hearts, and Cauliflower continue experiencing supply issues with Romaine Hearts struggling the most due to heavy rains and colder than average temperatures during March. Celery harvests are on track to start in Salinas in June, for now, production is coming out of Santa Maria and Oxnard, CA. The Citrus Market’s (Lemons, Limes, and Oranges) overall pricing continues to remain steady, but availability on the smaller sized fruit remains limited. However, Lime supplies are beginning to increase, and pricing is expected to continue to decrease. Elsewhere, Honeydew supplies are below projections due to some field issues in Honduras as well as some growers dealing with crop failure reducing their yields. Lower supplies are anticipated over the next two weeks. Both the US and Mexico continue to ramp up their spring tomato crop which is seeing overall good quality on Rounds and Romas. Grape Tomatoes continue to be hit or miss out of Mexico due to poor quality. Out of the East, Grape tomatoes are seeing good quality and pricing continues to decrease week over week. Pricing is expected to remain lower for the foreseeable future.  The canned tomato markets are generally trending above last year’s levels due to the shorter harvest last fall and higher raw product costs for processors. Further, the March 1st tomato for canning inventory was 16.2% smaller than last year. Canned tomato prices may be supported in the near term.



The U.S. winter wheat crop improved slightly last week but ratings remain historically poor. Just 31% of the U.S. winter wheat crop is rated in either good or excellent condition which is the worst rating for mid-April in 22 years. Still, the market may have already priced a smaller wheat crop which may limit the near-term upside in prices.



The cheese markets have remained at fairly attractive levels for buyers during the early spring. U.S. cheese output continues to track above last year’s levels after a 4.2% increase in February. Further, nonfat dry milk supplies remain ample with the inventory at the end of February a record high. Low nonfat dry milk prices are typically accompbyd with historically low cheese prices due to the milk class relationships. But, strong exports could underpin cheese prices in the near term. The butter markets have been fairly range-bound but export interest is on the rise.


Beef production last week declined 1.9% but was 4.5% larger than the same week last year. Dressed cattle weights for steers and heifers for the six-week period ending March 30th were tracking .7% above 2017. The heavier cattle weights are boosting beef production. In addition, large cattle supplies are likely to deliver year-over-year output gains during the late spring. March retail beef prices averaged .6% higher from February and were up 4.5% from last year. Ground beef retail prices were 1.8% more expensive than the prior month but the second cheapest for the month since 2013. Look for beef demand to increase as the weather improves which will support prices in the coming weeks.



For the week ending April 7th, chicken production fell 1.1% from the prior week and was down 1.2% from the same week last year. Chicken slaughter was 1.7% smaller than last year but the average bird weight was .5% heavier than a year ago. The six-week moving average for chicken output was just .4% better than 2017. Recently, the USDA lowered their 2018 chicken output forecast to just 1.7% better than 2017. This factor and seasonally rising demand may support the chicken markets. Chicken wing prices are at their lowest level for this time of year since 2014. Wing prices can soften in the near term but usually trend higher afterwards. Since 2013, the average move for the ARA chicken wing index from early-May through June was up 4.1%.



Canada’s Department of Fisheries Operations has once again lowered the Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab quotas. Newfoundland has been reduced by 17% from 2017 while the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been slashed by 44%. The smaller quota numbers are not unexpected and are likely to support snow crab leg prices into the fall.



The natural gas market has trended upward in the last week and hit the highest level in over four weeks. Cold temperatures have been persistent this spring, supporting home heating needs. Natural gas prices usually move higher during the spring

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