Competition in Lethbridge’s feed market drives prices lower

Competition for Lethbridge’s marketplace is heating up, as feed wheat and barley are nearly priced identically, leading to further declines in both markets.

“It seems like they are both trading in the mid-C$150 (per tonne) range,” said Allen Pirness, senior trader at MarketPlace Commodities in Lethbridge.

According to the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, feed barley was valued at C$155 per tonne during the week of Jan. 6, while feed wheat was pegged at C$156 per tonne. Both commodities are significantly lower from their roughly $300-per-tonne highs seen in late spring and early summer.

Both commodities have yet to find a bottom, he added, as the wheat market is driving barley down with it.

“It seems to be that feed wheat is kind of in the driver’s seat right now and barley is in the process of getting its direction from the feed wheat market,” he said. “Any round lower will be driven by wheat, not barley alone. I don’t think barley by itself would necessarily have to go any lower, because it seems like in this market that there’s enough local demand.”

Looking ahead to February, Pirness said he expects the current price trend to continue, barring strong export sales.

“I don’t see that they have to be any different from now,” he said, noting that the cattle industry will likely further pressure the market. “A lot of cattle were placed last fall, so we’ve seen good demand right now.

“But as we move into the end of January, early February, we’ll probably be seeing some of those bigger cattle start to be replaced with smaller cattle. That could reduce demand for feed grain and maybe that puts some further pressure on prices.”

— Brandon Logan writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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