Beef Bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Aug 22, 2005
by WLJ

Alberta group has big beef plans
A group of Alberta ranchers plans to purchase an existing beef plant in Alberta, and open a new 1,400-head-a-day slaughter facility in Manitoba. Canada Farm Direct has already raised $20 million of the $30 million through private investment it will need to obtain a large, unidentified beef processing plant in Saskatchewan. If that deal goes through, Canada Farm Direct would then move to construct a new Manitoba-based slaughterhouse capable of processing up to 1,400 fed cattle a day. Canada Farm Direct is hoping to open the new facility somewhere in western Manitoba along the Saskatchewan border in the next few years. The group maintains its processing plant will not operate in competition with the proposed Ranchers’ Choice Beef Co-op plant slated to be constructed in Dauphin, Alberta, later this year. For a minimum $10,000 investment, investors get a guaranteed dividend on net profits and can have 50 head of cattle processed at the facility each year.

South Dakota beef backed by Gov.
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds recently announced his support of the South Dakota Certified Beef program. He said the program is an opportunity for the state to market its beef as “the finest anywhere” and also generate higher earnings for producers who participate in the program. Rounds said consumers will be willing to pay more for the certified beef, the result of producers following certain steps, including detailed record-keeping that includes birth and immunization dates. Many producers already are taking many of those steps anyway, the governor said. “If we produce the best beef, let's get paid for it,” Rounds said.

Jack in the Box profits jump
San Diego-based hamburger chain Jack in the Box Inc. recently announced profits for the third quarter totaled $23.9 million, compared to $20.7 million a year ago and ahead of earlier projections for the quarter. The company raised its projection for year-end net profits to approximately $2.52 per share, up from the earlier forecasted $2.46. Last year, the company earned $2.02 per share. For the first three quarters, sales increased to $1.9 billion, compared to $1.7 billion a year ago. Jack in the Box now operates 2,033 restaurants, about three-quarters of them owned by the company.

Red Robin CEO dismissed
Michael J. Snyder has been dismissed as chairman, chief executive and president of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers after an internal probe revealed he misused charter airplanes and corporate expense accounts. A special committee investigation by the Greenwood Village, CO-based company identified various expenses by Snyder that were inconsistent with company policies or “lacked sufficient documentation.” Snyder took control of the company after merging his Snyder Group Co., which controlled 14 Red Robin franchises, with the parent company in 2000. The publicly-traded company, known for its wide array of specialty burgers, owns and franchises more than 260 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.

Sysco earnings up for Q4, year
Restaurant food distributor Sysco Corp., recently announced net profits edged up 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter, to $284.7 million. Sales for the Houston-based firm were $7.98 billion in the fourth quarter. For the year, sales reached $30.3 billion, up 3.2 percent from a year ago, while net profits rose 6 percent to $961.5 million. Richard Schnieders, Sysco's chief executive, said that increased distribution efficiencies more than offset rising fuel costs, and that the company's investments in specialty food distributors is paying off.

Bob Evans sees sales increase
Processor and restaurant chain Bob Evans Farms has seen a rise in sales of 23 percent in the first quarter of the financial year. Sales rose to $395.6 million compared to $320.6 million in the same quarter last year. The company said the increase is primarily thanks to the acquisition of Mimi's Cafe in July 2004. Net income for the quarter was $7.2 million, compared with $14.2 million a year ago. The decline has been put down to lower same-store sales and operating margins at Bob Evans restaurants, partially offset by improved results in the food products segment. Same-store sales for the quarter fell by 1.9 percent at the company’s restaurant division, and average menu prices were down by 0.1 per cent from a year ago. At Mimi's Cafe, same-store sales went up by three percent, with average menu prices up by 2.3 percent. During the first quarter, the company opened six new Bob Evans restaurants, bringing the total to 593. However, the company is reducing the number of Bob Evans Restaurant openings to around 20 this year, from 37 in the 2005 financial year, as it focuses on improving results at existing outlets.

FSIS proposes to raise fees
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced through a USDA press release a proposed rule that would create four incremental annual fee increases for voluntary inspection, overtime and holiday inspection services, identification and certification services, and laboratory services. For example, the fee for providing meat and poultry voluntary inspection, identification and certification services is proposed to increase from $43.64 per hour per program employee in 2005 to $46.78 in 2006, $47.79 in 2007, $48.84 in 2007, and $49.93 in 2008. FSIS must pay for inspection during regular hours, but will charge when inspectors incur overtime or work during the holidays. To submit comments: Email to fsis.regulationscomments@fsis.usda.gov or www.regulations.gov; mail comments to Attention Docket Clerk, Docket No. 03-027P, USDA/FSIS, 300 12th St., SW, Room 102 Cotton Annex, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700 by Aug. 19.

Montana slaughterhouse shuttered
Ranchland Packing Co., a Butte, MT, meatpacker, was closed by USDA inspectors who discovered an infestation of rodents and insects in the building. The plant was ordered closed on Sunday, and the owners have until the end of the day Wednesday to prepare a plan to correct the situation. The company told the Associated Press that the infractions were minor and limited to the office areas and that the company has operated for over 30 years without a single food-safety complaint.


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