New boxed beef report unveiled
USDA on Jan. 3 formally unveiled its new boxed beef report, which is a downsized and much simpler version of what it had been publishing twice daily for the past several years. The new report only lists the composite Choice and Select boxed beef cutouts, along with the Choice/Select spread. Previously the composite cutout was broke down into 600-750 and 750-900 pound weight categories under each quality grade. However, officials with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service said the detail was unnecessary and complicating the reporting.
U.S. cattle leave for Cuba
A shipment of 22 beef cattle left the port of Fort Everglades, FL, on Friday, Dec. 31 bound for Havana, Cuba, and landed on the country’s shore Tuesday, Jan. 4. It marked the first shipment of live cattle to Cuba since the U.S. imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1959 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. The New Year’s Eve shipment marked the first shipment of several scheduled over the next few months. A total of 300 head of U.S. live cattle, valued at nearly $1 million, will end up in Cuba when all the shipments are made. In 2000, Congress allowed an exception to the embargo in the case of agricultural products sold for cash.
Steak added to donut chain menu
Dunkin’ Donuts started out 2005 introducing it’s first ever beef offering—a steak, egg and cheese sandwich. The sandwich features seasoned sirloin steak and is served on a warm bagel. The promotion is expected to run through May, but could be extended pending consumer acceptance of the new sandwich.
Japan restaurant posts profit
Yoshinoya D&C, one of Japan’s largest gyudon, or beef bowl restaurant chains, said it returned to profitability in the latest quarter, which ended Nov. 30. The 1,000-unit chain, which relied heavily on imported American beef for its most popular dishes, said it lost money for two consecutive quarters after American beef supplies dried up at the first of the year when Japan announced its ban on imports. The company has substituted pork bowls and a new spicy beef bowl made with Australian beef, but said it has no substitute for gyudon, which can only be made to Japanese taste with American beef. Yoshinoya saw sharp same-store sales drop over previous years, on average about 33 percent, but managed to eke out a profit through cost-cutting moves.
Kuwait lifts ban on U.S. beef
Kuwait, on Dec. 26, became the first country among the four Arab Gulf Cooperation Countries to lift a ban on all beef imports originating from the U.S., with the exception of the state of Washington, according to an agricultural attache from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The decision resulted from ATO Dubai’s ongoing efforts over the past 12 months to convince the host governments’ health authorities to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports. The decision by Kuwait is expected to help hasten similar action by health authorities in the remaining three GCC countries.
Yum! offers health-club membership
The ownership group of Taco Bell, KFC, A&W, Pizza Hut fast food chains is offering customers free, four-week memberships at Bally Total Fitness clubs during January. Yum! Brands Inc. operates more than 18,000 units in the U.S. The is designed to counter recent negative publicity from obesity-related lawsuits, which blames the obesity epidemic on the fast food industry. The giveaway is valued at $50 per person.
New Ontario beef plant planned
The Kent Cattlemen's Association is awaiting approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to begin construction of a (US)$15 million beef processing plant that is expected to slaughter 600-800 cattle per week. The exact site of the plant will be in the region of Chatham, Ontario, and an architectural firm has been hired. However, other details are not being released until CFIA grants approval. At that time, the owners will open bids for a general contractor.
Brazil cattle negative for HMD
Confirmatory test results indicated there was not an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease (HMD) in the cattle-rich Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul as was suspected last month, Agriculture Ministry officials said last Tuesday. The news was relief to Brazil's beef industry, which was put on alert after blood tests on 28 cattle from Paranhos, on the border with Paraguay, showed signs of being infected with the disease. The original test may have come up positive because the cows were vaccinated for HMD just four days before. Brazil has had two outbreaks of hoof-and-mouth disease this year.