Beef Bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jan 31, 2005
by WLJ

McD’s late ‘04 sales jump
McDonald's Corp., last week reported that global system-wide sales for its restaurants increased 9.6 percent in December and 9.5 percent for the 2004 fourth quarter compared with the same periods in 2003. According to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, the company served more than 48 million customers per day during 2004, an increase of 1.6 million customers per day over the prior year. December and fourth quarter results were fueled by the performance of the U.S. burger business, which was up almost seven percent from the same time period of 2003.

Uruguay sends most exports to U.S.
The U.S. imported 148,434 metric tons of Uruguayan beef in 2004, in excess of a four-fold increase from 2003. The United States was the major market for Uruguayan beef last year, receiving approximately 63 percent of total Uruguayan fresh and frozen beef exports. Uruguay is allocated an annual U.S. beef quota of 20,000 metric tons, of which 99 percent was filled last year. However, the majority of beef, 128,618 tons entered the U.S. subject to the 26.4 percent over-quota tariff. The tariff is typically paid by the Uruguayan exporter and included in the bid price for U.S. importers.

Sara Lee sales up, profits down
Despite sales increases in the second fiscal quarter, Sara Lee Corp. reported that higher meat commodity prices are taking a toll on the company's bottom line. For the quarter ended Jan. 1, Sara Lee posted total earnings of $326 million, or 46 cents a share, up from $312 million for the prior-year period. Total sales for the period were up 3.6 percent to $5.2 billion. But higher meat commodity prices pulled down the division's operating profits almost 26 percent to $85 million, prompting the company to lower its full-year earnings outlook to between $1.46 and $1.56 per share, versus previous predictions of $1.61 to $1.71.

New BSE in Spain
A Spanish laboratory on Jan. 21 confirmed a new case of BSE in the country. The National Reference Laboratory of Zaragoza reported the diagnosis of mad-cow disease on a four-year-old cow, which had died, in Galve de Sorbe, Guadalajara. This was the eighth case in the autonomous municipality since 2000, according to a report of the Castilla-La Mancha Board. The Agricultural Advisory has ordered an immediate slaughter of all cows born up to 12 months before or after the birth of the infected cow, which were raised close to it. It also ordered the slaughter of the offspring born two years before the cow's death and the destruction of the animal feed of animal origin. Since 2000, a total of 519 BSE-positive cases have been detected in the country, five of them this year, said the Castilla-La Mancha Board.

Steakburgers donated
America’s Second Harvest, The Nation’s Food Bank Network, and MasterCard International announced the donation of 402,304 Steak n Shake STEAKBURGER patties to help feed the hungry in 18 states. Sixty-eight America’s Second Harvest food banks are receiving STEAKBURGER patties thanks to the success of MasterCard International and Steak n Shake’s recent TAKHOMACARD gift card program. As part of the program, the 425-store restaurant chain agreed to donate one STEAKBURGER patty to America's Second Harvest for every $5 in TAKHOMACARD gift card purchases. For more information on how to help your local food bank, visit or call 800/771-2303.

British beef sales up in 2004
Sales of English beef saw healthy gains during 2004, with total value of beef sales for the year hitting 1.5 billion lira. The growth is shown in figures released by the Meat and Livestock Commission on behalf of the English Beef Executive. The data shows that the value of beef sold in Britain rose by 4.4 percent over 2003. The area that saw the most growth were cuts more suited for marinades of beef, which increased over 2003 by 32.4 percent.

Koreans using RFID chips
In a effort to quell consumer fears of BSE in Korea, the Korean Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service is tracing all imported beef with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in a new pilot program. Beginning April 1, beef with embedded chips will be sold at several Galleria stores so consumers will be able to scan the beef and get a report on its country of origin distribution path. This system will also allow for immediate recalls if the government decides in the future to ban imported beef from that country. The Korea Times reported that the system will eventually include native cattle.