Beef Bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jun 6, 2005
by WLJ

Morton’s founder dies at 83
Restaurateur Arnie Morton, founder of the Morton’s of Chicago steakhouse chain, died May 28 at the age of 83. Morton had suffered from Alzheimer's disease and cancer and had been living at a nursing home in Deerfield, IL. A native of Chicago, Morton opened his first restaurant, the Walton Walk, in the 1950s. In 1960, he joined Hugh Hefner and Victor Lownes to found the first Playboy Club. In 1978, he opened the first Morton's, featuring prime aged steaks. The restaurant struggled until Frank Sinatra came in after a concert one evening and the press ran the story. Morton sold the operation in the late 1980s. The chain currently consists of 65 restaurants in the U.S. and abroad. Morton is survived by his wife, seven children, a brother and 13 grandchildren.

Japan BSE cases at 19
Japanese officials last week announced they have suspected the 19th case of BSE in the country. Preliminary tests came back positive on a bovine animal at a slaughterhouse in Hokkaido prefecture, and authorities sent samples to two laboratories in the prefecture for confirmatory testing. No other specifics on the animal were available. Japan has found 18 animals infected with the illness since the first case was detected in 2001. As a result, Tokyo has checked every slaughtered beef animal before it enters the food supply since 2001. In February, Japan confirmed its first human case of BSE following the death of a man with symptoms of the illness. Japanese health authorities have said it was likely the man contracted the disease while living for a month in Britain in 1989.

New product facility unveiled
Swift & Co., Greeley, CO, recently opened the doors to its new product research and development facility, which company officials said cost $6.6 million to build and is now dubbed “The Summit.” The new facility opened with a company-wide celebration, including politicians and other meat industry leader. The Summit is where Swift’s customers will be introduced to new Swift products. The Summit is a 17,000 square-foot facility where meat product innovation and processing tests will be conducted. A team of meat scientists will operate the center's $1.5 million worth of equipment including slicers, dicers, tenderizers, breaders, smokers, shrink wrappers, and roasters.

CKE sales mixed
CKE Restaurants, Inc. recently announced that same-store sales for period four of fiscal year 2006 were up for Carl’s Jr. but down for Hardees’, compared to a year ago. First quarter results also showed an increase in sales at Carl’s Jr., but a decline at Hardees. For the four weeks ending May 23, Carl’s Jr. showed a 1.5 percent increase in sales, while Hardees’ sales were down one percent. For the first quarter of FY 2006, Carl’s Jr. sales were up 2.4 percent, while Hardee’s sales were down one-tenth-of-one-percent. The jump in Carl’s Jr. sales was attributed to continued advertising the new Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger and its unique breakfast offering, the Breakfast Burger(TM). As of the end of its fiscal fourth quarter on Jan. 31, 2005, CKE Restaurants, Inc., had 1,014 Carl's Jr. restaurants and 2,034 Hardee's restaurants.

Friday's meat snacks to hit retail
Poore Brothers Inc., Goodyear, AZ, recently announced it will retail a new line of T.G.I. Friday's brand meat snacks pursuant to its licensing agreement with Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. The snacks are said be more tender than traditional jerky items. Flavors include Original Steak, BBQ Flavored Chicken and Mesquite Smoked Steak, all available in resealable packaging. The snacks will be sold in convenience stores, grocery stores, club stores and mass merchandise outlets in the very near future.

Curling rink to become packing plant
Peace Country Tender Beef Cooperative plans to convert a curling rink in Berwyn, Alberta, into a beef processing plant. Neil Peacock, chairman of the cooperative, said the plant, built in conjunction with a Dawson Creek, British Columbia, facility, would open as a value-added beef-processing plant. The Dawson Creek plant will take some time getting through the regulatory processes. In the meantime, Peacock said the Berwyn plant will fill a gap. The Berwyn processing plant will be built in two stages. For the first stage the facility will be a provincially-licensed plant to process meat from animals slaughtered elsewhere in Alberta. The second stage will coincide with the opening of the Dawson Creek slaughterhouse and meat-packing facility, when it will start producing various deli meats destined for both Canadian and export markets. The Berwyn plant is expected to begin first phase operations this fall.

Japanese packer sentenced
Mitsuru Asada, former chairman of Hannan Corp., Japan’s largest distributor of meat products, was sentenced to seven years in prison for is role in a scheme to defraud the government of $46 million. Asada and other executives substituted imported beef for domestic product when the government instituted a buyback program for domestic beef in the wake of the 2001 discovery of BSE in Japan. Asada admitted he had conspired with about 25 other company executives and other to mislabel the beef and collect the subsidies. Twelve others have pleaded guilty and received suspended sentences. Asada has paid back about $9 million of the fraudulent funds he received.

Flies kill cattle, other livestock
Swarming flies were responsible for killing 324 farm animals in Latvia late last month, with most of the victimized livestock being cattle. The flies bit the animals to death, Latvia animal health officials reported. Warm temperatures after an unusually cold, damp spring created ideal conditions for the massive swarms of flies to attack grazing animals in Latgale, one of the European Union’s poorest regions. Damages from the fly attack could amount to tens of thousands of euros. Published reports said at least 90 percent of the animals killed were cattle.