BEEF bits

Feb 6, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

JBS plans to grow beef exports

Brazilian meat giant JBS-Swift plans to grow its U.S. beef exports in excess of industry export forecasts, but will need to make some changes to do so, JBS-USA Senior Vice President for International Sales Dan Halstrom said. “At JBS, we expect to grow our U.S. beef exports in excess of the industry forecast of 6 percent, but this will require a change in the way we do business. We need to manage our risk carefully, and focus on stable markets and affordable cuts.” Halstrom identified South Korea, Japan, Canada and Mexico as the foreign markets holding the highest priority for JBS, primarily because of the stability and reliability these markets offer during times of very tight credit.

Retail campaign is the ‘veal deal’

A year’s worth of free groceries will generate a lot of excitement. That’s the idea behind the new marketing campaign being launched by the Beef Checkoff. With a sweepstakes, a new interactive Web site, and a TV promotion, the checkoff hopes to generate significant demand for cooking veal at home. The shopper marketing program focuses on selling the dish, not the cut. With the launch of the Web site in late January, consumers are able to access new, fast-and-easy recipes using the most common cuts available in stores. Plus, they can enter online to win free groceries for a year from their favorite retailer.

Free-raised veal

Veal is back—from way back, by some definitions. “When we refer to our program as authentic, we mean before the industrialized farming of the 1960s,” said Randy Strauss. “We’re going back to the fatted calf in the Bible—the original veal.” Strauss is copresident and CEO of Strauss Veal in Hales Corners, WI. There, he and his brother are reinventing the third-generation veal and lamb operation, seeking to persuade those who criticize veal production as cruel that there is a better way. Strauss calls their product “free-raised” veal. Two years ago, the company began shifting its practices to what it calls crate-free group housing in which calves can move about in pens. Now they’re further shifting to calves raised outdoors in pastures alongside their mothers.

Packers pitted in lawsuit

Nebraska Beef Ltd. has filed a lawsuit against Meyer Natural Foods to settle a dispute over which company is liable for certain expenses incurred during a recall of beef last summer. Some of the roughly 7 million pounds of beef that Nebraska Beef recalled in two separate recalls in July and August was supplied by Meyer for custom processing. Bill Lamson, an attorney representing Nebraska Beef, said the company contends that Meyer Natural Foods and its parent company, Meyer Foods Holdings, are liable for recall costs associated with its products. The lawsuit states that Meyer has informed Nebraska Beef that legal claims related to the recalls are being made against Meyer, and Meyer has demanded that Nebraska Beef indemnify it of all such claims and liabilities.

JBS talking divestitures

Brazilian meat giant JBS-SA is talking to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) about divesting assets to gain approval to buy National Beef Packing, Wesley Batista, CEO of the company’s JBS-Swift unit, said. “The discussions are about divesting assets, not closing any plants,” said Batista. DOJ has so far blocked JBS from buying National Beef, saying the deal would give the world’s largest beef producer too much control over beef and cattle trade in the U.S. market. JBS became the third-largest U.S. beef producer last year when it bought Smithfield Beef Group, which included the Five Rivers Ranch cattle feeding operation. The National Beef purchase, as proposed, would make it the largest U.S. beef producer. Batista said the talks with DOJ were proceeding and he was hopeful for a settlement, but declined to say which assets might be sold.

AgriprocessorsĀ“ suppliers paid

USDA announced recently that livestock sellers owed money by bankrupt Agriprocessors Inc. will be paid in full. The payouts total more than $2 million and will be made from the trust protection provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act. “Protecting independent producers through vigorous oversight and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act is essential in these tough economic times, and it is a priority of the Obama administration,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Iowa made the payments possible by granting a motion to pay P&S Act Trust claims in mid-January.

In January, 24 sellers filed valid claims ranging from less than $1,000 to more than $500,000.