In this weekly Commodities Watch column, John T. Barone, president and commodities analyst for Market Vision Inc., offers a snapshot of the state of commodities for restaurants.

A window of good weather aided corn last week, with today’s USDA progress report expected to show corn sowings doubling to at least 56 percent, possibly as high as 65 percent. Even so, old crop corn supplies will be tight through summer. Cash prices are averaging $1 per bushel higher than futures.

Most analysts feel there is little justification for the extreme run-up in chicken breast prices and that fundamentals support $1.60-1.70, not $2.01. It won’t be until fall that producers will be able to build breeding flocks enough to significantly increase production.

Friday’s Cattle on Feed report was mildly bearish with April new placements increasing 15 percent, but feedlot inventory, at 10.74 million head, is still 3.4 percent below last year. Pasture conditions are still poor and with no mid-year USDA (sequestered) inventory report, we can only speculate that cattle liquidation may be continuing.

Contact John T. Barone at jbarone@mktvsn.com.