Beef Bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 21, 2005
by WLJ

123,000 pounds ground beef recalled
Emmpak Foods Inc. of Milwaukee, WI, is voluntarily recalling approximately 123,000 pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with hydraulic fluid, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Feb. 14. Nine products are subject to the recall, all of which are one-pound packages. The product’s bear sell by dates of 1/31/05, 2/1/05 or 2/2/05. Each package also bears the code, “Est. 20654" inside the USDA mark of inspection. Seven of the items were distributed to retail stores in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Two others were distributed to retail stores in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

McD’s January sales up
McDonald's Corp. recently reported that international system-wide sales for McDonald's restaurants increased 8.3 percent in January compared with January 2004. Comparable sales for McDonald's restaurants worldwide increased 5.2 percent. According to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner comparable sales last month were up 4.1 percent in the U.S. and 5.4 percent from January 2004. Europe's January system-wide sales rose 11.6 percent.

Australian beef exports down 7.3 percent in January
Beef exports from Australia, the world’s biggest exporter, fell 7.3 percent in January to 42,600 metric tons from a year earlier. Beef demand from Japan and South Korea and exports to those destinations remained strong in January, but shipments to the U.S. declined. Exports to Japan fell 11 percent on year to 21.053 tons in January. Exports in January 2004 were abnormally high due to increased demand after Japan banned imports of U.S. beef. Exports to South Korea surged 79 percent to 6.393 tons in January this year, another market where U.S. and Canadian beef imports are banned.

$1 million grant awarded for cattle genome research
Genetic differences in reproduction, lactation, growth, bone structure, fat deposition, altitude and heat tolerance, and resistance to specific pathogens will be the subject of a study at the Center for Animal Biotechnology and Genomics at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, which will allow researchers to study the differences in cattle breeds and individual cows. Genetic differences in reproduction, lactation, growth, bone structure, fat deposition, altitude and heat tolerance, and resistance to specific pathogens will be studied. This in turn can lead to the development of new treatments for both human and animal diseases.

2005 BSE cases in France at five
The U.S. ag attaché in Paris on Feb. 11 reported there have been five confirmed BSE cases in French cattle since the first of this year alone. Over the last 36 months 435 BSE-positive cattle have been found in France. A total of 951 BSE cases have been confirmed in French cattle since 1991.

Sara Lee unloading EU beef
Chicago-based Sara Lee has announced plans to spin off its $4.5 billion branded apparel unit and three other businesses in order to concentrate on its food, beverage and household product offerings. Among the other units for sale are Sara Lee's $1.1 billion packaged meat business in Europe. The company said the restructuring will not affect fiscal 2005 earnings, which are forecast at $1.46 to $1.56 a share, before any gains or charges that may occur in the next four months. It also affirmed its second- and third-quarter profit forecasts of 29 cents and 34 cents per share, respectively.

Prison sentence urged
Prosecutors demanded 12 years in prison Feb. 15 for the former chairman of an Osaka-based meat-packing company who allegedly swindled the government out of more than 5 billion yen by abusing a state beef buyback program to calm concerns over BSE, reports Kyodo. At the Osaka District Court, Mitsuru Asada, 66, the former chairman of Hannan Corp. and key defendant in the high-profile case, admitted the prosecutors’ allegations in the first hearing but later argued that the farm ministry was also responsible for motivating him to commit the fraud and remain silent about it. According to the indictment, Asada defrauded the government and an industry group out of 5.03 billion yen from November 2001 through May 2002 by falsely labeling beef to qualify for the buyback program, according to the indictment.

CHB reports first 1M-pound week
According to Certified Hereford Beef LLC (CHB), during the third week of January, licensed packers of CHB beef sold more than one million pounds of product to the program's 400 retail locations, as well as foodservice outlets. That marked the first time in the program’s history that weekly distribution reached one million pounds or more.
Doug Miller, vice president ofsales for CHB, said this sales achievement further propels the 10-year-old program towards its goal of creating an annual demand of one million head of Hereford-influenced cattle. In week four of 2005, Certified Hereford Beef's packers harvested a record number of cattle, exceeding 10,000 head.