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THE COMA TEST

The job of an agricultural analyst is to have an opinion on every topic and an answer for every question. And most of us prefer fundamentals—supply and demand. However, in 2022, macroeconomics and geopolitics held sway and muted some of the price movements that could have occurred if fundamentals dominated the market. Moreover, the variables needed for any model explaining potential price direction have expanded. To get my bearings at times like these, I resort to the Coma Test.

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THE OTHER WEST COAST PORT

The Port of Prince Rupert is a remote but critical link in the Canadian crop export chain. Located in Prince Rupert Harbour just south of the Alaska Panhandle on British Columbia’s rugged Pacific coastline, its facilities are strung along a 20-kilometre stretch of Kaien Island, adjacent to the Prince Rupert townsite.

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TOGETHER AGAIN

Markets, trade and technical services are at the core of Cereals Canada operations. With the onset of COVID-19 in spring 2020, many of the organization’s activities, including international new crop missions, were conducted virtually. This past July, Cereals Canada returned to in-person operations.

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ALL THINGS ARE NEVER EQUAL

Grain and oilseed market analysis should boil down to two questions: How much did farmers produce, and how much was consumed? This leaves a residual, which is the gap between total supply and total demand. The larger the residual (ending stocks) the more pressure on prices and vice versa. A fundamentals-driven analyst would look closely at the magnitude (big/little) and direction (up/down) of ending stocks and be able to discern price direction. Unfortunately, for farmers and consumers, macroeconomics and geopolitical aspects matter and often dominate the determination of prices.

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WELCOME BACK

From Aug. 10-12, the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) and its members held the 2022 Western Canada Barley Crop Tour, the first time in three years the event has been held in person. Approximately 50 representatives from across the barley value chain gathered in central Saskatchewan. The group included maltsters and brewers, Canadian farmers and grain companies, as well as buyers of Canadian barley and malt from around the world. The tour included several beer industry representatives from Japan, one of Canada’s largest malt markets. Among them were technical and purchasing staff from Asahi and Sapporo Breweries.

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AGRICULTURE COALITION HELPS UKRAINIAN FARMERS

EarthDaily Analytics is a Vancouver-based data processing and analytics company. With its agricultural subsidiary EarthDaily Agro and Agrilab, a Ukrainian precision farming business, the company launched Support Ukrainian Farmers Coalition (SUFC). The global organization is composed of government, corporate and NGO partners.

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ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES

The net result of combined low carry-in stocks, the severe drought of 2021 and record high prices for feed barley has been a supply crunch that has made it difficult for North American maltsters to source sufficient supplies. The available barley generally has quality challenges that include very high protein content and reduced germination caused by 2021 weather conditions. We now have greater perspective on how the malting and brewing industries are dealing with the challenges associated with the less-than-optimal crop.

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UNWELCOME INSTABILITY

Markets prefer certainty, and COVID-19 injected a substantial amount of uncertainty. The supply chain was disrupted and continues to struggle while governments have poured money into the economy to maintain stability. Inflation has been a byproduct of this supply chain disruption and government largesse. Costs have gone up, wages have escalated and shipping costs increased. Shortages have spurred price hikes and food has not been spared.

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WHAT ABOUT WHEAT?

The newly launched What about Wheat? campaign is intended to promote the nutritional benefits of wheat and the positive practices employed by the farmers who grow it. Partners in the value chain-led initiative include Cereals Canada, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian National Millers Association with support from Synthesis Agri-Food Network.

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RENEWED CONNECTIONS

For more than 20 years, Cereals Canada has welcomed farmers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to its Winnipeg headquarters for its annual Combine to Customer program. The exception was 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation.

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