Chop and grind in the markets isn’t really the kind of headline you want to hear for the beef markets, but maybe chop and grind means good things for prices.

“U.S. markets trading about a buck higher than how they closed the end of last week, so $103, $104 in the north, heading the right direction but it’s a chop and a grind” says Anne Wasko, from the Gateway Livestock Exchange. “Here in Canada, mid $130s, light trade this week, and when I look back, we’ve been there for eight weeks, pretty much all of August and September, very much a choppy sideways move.”

The calendar flips into the fourth quarter pretty soon, which, seasonally is a positive sign for fed cattle prices to climb higher says Wasko.

Compared to the grains and oilseeds markets that have rallied this harvest, which is quite un-seasonal, the beef markets (and pork markets for that matter), haven’t been able to jump on the same kind of rally. As you see grain prices moving higher though, especially crops that would fall into the feed grain category, it’s going to pressure what’s going on in the cattle side, says Wasko.

Cut-out prices are also pretty seasonal, down about $5 this week from last week, and heading into October it will probably lose a bit more ground; but they should rally by November or December. Compared to the spring and the large moves because of supply disruption, the moves in cut-out prices now are a more typical.

On the exports side, the July data was promising, even compared to last year’s data, and beef exports were up 13 per cent, which is the largest July before even BSE. Exports are up 12 per cent into the U.S., up three per cent into Japan, and into China, exports are up 17 per cent.

The annual sale for feeder cattle was held recently in southern Alberta, and close to 40,000 head of yearlings and calves were sold at prices similar or higher than last year’s prices.

Wasko is returning to the chair seat for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB), and is excited to be back in the spot for the first virtual annual general meeting.

“We’ve got a very diverse group of members, from clear across the supply chain, NGOs, everyone across the whole system partaking,” Wasko says of the meeting. “We had some good messages and updates to give our membership, we’ve seen more getting involved in the certification framework.” Exciting additions to the CRSB include Chop Steakhouse & Bar, as well as McDonald’s adding its quarter pounder line.

Hear the full conversation between Wasko and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney below:

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