Beef Bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
May 16, 2005
by WLJ

McDonald’s posts growth in April
McDonald’s Corp. posted a moderate rise in sales at its namesake fast-food restaurants last month, lifted by improved domestic business while European demand lagged. Same-store sales at worldwide McDonald’s locations open at least a year grew 2.8 percent in April, but slowed from an increase of 10.5 percent in the prior-year period. Total system wide sales were 6.7 percent higher. Monthly same-store sales jumped 4.7 percent at U.S. sites and 1.6 percent in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A year ago, U.S. sales rose 13.5 percent and Asian, Middle Eastern and African sales were up 10.1 percent. Meanwhile, European same-store sales dropped 0.7 percent, compared with growth of 5 percent last year.

Oman reopens to U.S. beef
USDA announced last Monday that Oman has lifted its ban on all U.S. beef and beef product imports. In 2003, the U.S. exported more than $61,000 worth of beef and beef products to Oman. It is the second country in the Middle East region to reopen its market to U.S. beef. Egypt announced the reopening of its market to U.S. beef in March.

Fast-food tax proposed
The mayor of Detroit, MI, recently proposed a two percent tax on fast-food sales, which is an additional 10 cents on a $5 meal. The proposal is said to be an effort to curb a possible $300 million budget deficit facing the city. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said, “It's a small amount for the individual customer, but it adds up to a meaningful amount to preserve essential city service.” A vote on the budget initiative will take place before July 1, the start of the city's 2006 fiscal year. If approved, Detroit would become the first city in the United States to impose a tax on fast-food. Consumers already are charged an average nationwide restaurant tax of six percent on, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Japan may have 18th BSE case
A cow in northern Japan has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a preliminary test, and its samples are being sent to university laboratories to try to confirm the infection, a state official said. If confirmed, it would be the nations 18th case of the fatal brain-wasting disease, said Toshinobu Tanabe, an official in Hokkaido prefecture in charge of dairy industry. Preliminary tests on the cow turned up positive May 10 at a slaughter house in Hokkaido, an island in Japan’s far north. But the animal’s age and other details weren’t immediately known. Samples taken from the cow were sent to two university laboratories in Hokkaido for more precise testing. Final results from the secondary tests are expected within several days.

Buehler files bankruptcy
Buehler Foods Inc., Jasper, Indiana, which owns and operates more than 60 grocery stores in five states—Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia—has filed for bankruptcy protection, citing delays in assuming control of 16 Winn-Dixie stores it purchased last year. The grocery chain owes $200 million to $400 million to 572 creditors. Under its Chapter 11 filing, Buehler will continue operating its stores as it tries to reorganize.

Aussie slaughter up in March
The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed that Australian adult cattle slaughter during March was slightly higher than year ago levels, at 694,000 head. Slaughter rose six percent in Queensland, to 327,000 head, which was the second highest level for March on record. Slaughter levels also rose four percent in New South Wales, to 148,000 head, but fell by 14 percent in Victoria, to 124,000 head. The slight increase in March slaughter levels has taken adult cattle slaughter for the first quarter of 2005 to 1.8 million head, still down two percent compared to last year.

Fewer ‘downers’ in 2004
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently reported that the number of non-ambulatory cattle and calves totaled 450,000 head during 2004, 15,000 head fewer than the number reported during 2003. The number of non-ambulatory cattle 500 pounds or greater totaled 280,000 head in 2003, and 270,000 head in 2004. The number of calves under 500 pounds reported as non-ambulatory totaled 185,000 head in 2003, and 180,000 head in 2004. The number of operations that reported non-ambulatory cattle and calves was 103,000 in 2003, and 81,000 in 2004. In 2003, there were 66,800 beef cow operations reporting downer animals, compared to 49,700 in 2004.

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