Beef Bits

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

Oscar Meyer sale rumored
Kraft Foods’ desire to focus solely on cheese and dairy, biscuits, coffee, and specialty beverages has fueled speculation that it wants to sell its Oscar Mayer and Louis Rich processed meat businesses. However, the massive size of the Oscar Mayer and Louis Rich brands make them saleable to only a few large companies. Some meat industry experts put a $1 billion price tag on just the Oscar Meyer brand. At least one industry watcher said Sara Lee would be the most logical buyer. Sara Lee already owns Ball Park Franks, the largest U.S. hot dog brand in America. Oscar Mayer is the second largest brand. The Oscar Meyer operation reported a 10 percent sales increase in 2004, in part because of the success of its Deli Shaved Roast Beef sandwich meat.

Japan supply fell in January
Japan’s beef supply fell to a historical low during January, with total beef stocks totaling just 60,001 metric tons. Australia has become the largest supplier of beef to Japan, after Japan closed its markets to U.S. beef following the discovery of a cow infected with BSE in late 2003. Beef supplies in Japan fell eight percent compared with January 2004, and were down 36 percent compared with January 2003. Although imports of beef over the period have increased 16 percent to 28,323 metric tons—primarily from Australia—production of domestic Japanese beef declined eight percent to total 25,947 tons.

Lone Star posts revenue hike
Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Inc. posted a fourth quarter revenue hike of 11.7 percent to $205.4 million and a 13.2 percent year-to-date increase to $669.5 million. Overall comparable store sales growth edged up 1.3 percent for the quarter and 3.6 percent for the fiscal year. The chain’s Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House recorded the highest fourth-quarter comparable store sales growth, up 17 percent, followed by the recently acquired Texas Land & Cattle Steak House, up 7.9 percent. The company’s namesake chain, Lone Star, fared the worst, with a 1.7 percent decline. Comparable store sales at the company’s Sullivan’s Steakhouse climbed 3.1 percent for the quarter.

Hardee's intros new burger
Hardee's recently announced it is selling a new Frisco Thickburger two years after the chain's original Frisco burger was retired, following the inauguration of Hardee's line of Thickburgers. The new burger includes two slices of Swiss cheese, two strips of crispy bacon, sliced fresh tomato and a buttered, grilled sourdough bread spread with onion-flavored mayonnaise. The difference is that the Frisco Thickburger is made with a 1/3-lb, charbroiled Angus beef patty, as are the other nine offered Thickburgers. The Frisco Thickburger sells for a suggested price of $3.59.

Aussie slaughter down
Australian processors slaughtered nine percent fewer beef cattle during January than in January 2004, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Total slaughter was 485,000 head. Australian beef production for January 2005 was slightly lower than in January 2004, due to the decreased slaughter numbers, totaling 132,000 metric tons. However, despite the reduced numbers, the average adult carcass weight for January was 268.3 kilograms per head, an increase of 7.2 kilograms per head, compared to January 2004.

Beef sandwiches recalled
Lansing, MI-based Eastside Deli Supply recently recalled beef-and-cheese submarine sandwiches sold at more than 300 convenience stores in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio because of possible contamination with listeria monocytogenes. The sandwiches are packaged in clear wrapping and have the description name "Beef & Cheese Sub Sandwich." The recall includes products with sell-by dates up to and including March 22. The Michigan Department of Agriculture discovered the problem during a routine food inspection. No illnesses have been reported, but production of the sandwiches was voluntarily suspended pending an investigation into the source of the problem.

Drought forces Aussie cattle sale
About 11,000 head of cattle were auctioned off in the Australian city of Roma as the continuing dry conditions force graziers to sell-off stock. Livestock agent Jason Carswell said cattle were trucked in from western Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. "The panic has sort of set in some places where it's drier than most and we're seeing that now with large numbers coming through that people have sort of waited for the rain and it's just getting to the stage to do something before it does get proper dry," he said.