indicatorThe Twenty-Four

A mixed bag

Crop prices ease while cattle prices set records

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 20 July 2023 1 min read

The prices farmers and ranchers receive for their crops and animals are just one link in an often long chain between primary production and the food we purchase from grocery stores and restaurants.

Prices at the start of the chain, however, still have an impact on the retail end, so it is good news for consumers (less so for farmers) that major crop prices in Alberta (and around the world) have been on a downward trend from the highs seen last year.

Wheat prices in Alberta were 21% lower in May than 12 months earlier while canola prices were down by 26%. Barley prices have not come down as much, but were still 2% below where they were in May 2022. Lower prices for these crops were also the norm in the other provinces.

It takes time for recent prices to work their way through the food production system, and wheat, canola and barley are only slices of a much larger food pie, but the downward trend will reduce at least some of the upward pressure on food prices. (The year-over-year inflation rate for food purchased from grocery stores and restaurants in Canada was running at 8.3% in June.)

Working in the opposite direction is the collapse of the deal that was allowing for the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea that has been in place since last summer. Russia let the deal expire a few days ago and already global wheat and corn prices have spiked. If the deal remains off, the downward trend in crop prices noted above is likely to reverse in the months ahead.

It’s a different story for cattle with North American prices reaching record highs in May due to smaller herds and robust demand.

In Alberta, the price of cattle for slaughter and cattle for feeding was 38% and 49% higher, respectively, in May 2023 than the year before. In keeping with this upward trend, year-over-year beef prices at Alberta grocery stores were 13% higher in June and are poised to keep rising in the months ahead.

Answer to the previous trivia question: As of the 2021 Census, 424,055 Albertans lived alone. Nationally, it was 4,396,015.

Today’s trivia question: Who became the first person to walk on the moon on this day in 1969?

Wheat and canola prices have come down but cattle prices have gone up

Wheat and canola prices have come down but cattle prices have gone up

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