BEEF bits

Feb 13, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Korean stores may sell U.S. beef

South Korea’s department stores are considering selling U.S. beef following local discount retailers’ resumption of its sale in November last year. Lotte Department Store, the nation’s leading department store chain, is gearing up for the sale of U.S. beef within the first half of this year, while other department stores, including Hyundai and Shinsegae, are weighing the timing, sources said. Local beef importers resumed imports of U.S. beef in June of last year, but large retailers had not sold the meat out of concerns over a backlash. Local department stores believe that public opposition to U.S. beef has now eased as there have been no significant problems since discount stores resumed its sale, the sources said. Local top three discount stores—E-mart, Homeplus and Lottemart—launched the sale of U.S. beef at the end of November last year to meet growing demand for the cheaper meat amid a deepening economic downturn.

Australian cattle exports booming

The global trade for Australian cattle is booming despite the credit crunch—the national live export industry earned a record $644 million last year. Cattle exports jumped 20 percent last year, driven by growing protein consumption in Indonesia and new demand from Russia, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) reported recently. Recent projections of processed beef and veal exports reached a record 990,000 metric tons last year, with sales helped by the lower Australian dollar. MLA Livestock Exports Manager Michael Finucan said farmers exported almost 870,000 cattle last year. Indonesia took threequarters of them and strong demand was tipped to continue amid reports that buyers were expanding feedlots. The Russian market, which opened in 2006, took $50 million worth of cattle.

Dakota Beef moving forward

Dakota Beef recently issued a statement saying the company is moving forward after settling an illegal immigration case with the federal government. The Howard, SD-based company said Dakota Beef has replaced its entire senior management team since the incident occurred in June 2008. In addition, the company has implemented new and up-to-date procedures to prevent such an incident from occurring again. “We will continue to provide high quality organic beef, while adhering to the laws and the high standards that come with being a sustainable and health-minded organic beef company,” Richard Morris, the company’s new chief operating officer, said in the statement.

CAB names new international director

To support its network of global partners, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) has appointed Geof Bednar, Smithville, OH, as director of international sales for the CAB brand. Bednar, who has been with the company for more than four years, will oversee the brand’s international initiatives and work with licensed partners in 39 countries. In his new role, Bednar will focus on elevating the success of the brand’s international partners and support continued growth of the brand around the globe. He will also pursue an active role with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to sustain continued cooperation in international programs. Previously, Bednar focused on building the brand’s partners and presence in Canada as an executive account manager.

McDonald’s sees boost

McDonald’s reported a 7.1 percent increase in global comparable sales in January and a 5.4 percent increase in the U.S., further evidence that fast food restaurants continue to reap the benefit of consumers trading down from eating at casual restaurants.

“McDonald’s continues to appeal to customers as we offer high-quality, affordable meal options and unparalleled convenience,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner said in a news release. Skinner also took the opportunity to manage expectations for February numbers, pointing out that comparable sales will be negatively affected by about 4 percentage points as prior year results included one extra day due to leap year. “This compares with a calendar shift benefit of about 2 percentage points in January,” he noted.

Restaurants: slowest growth since 2002

The fourth quarter of 2008 yielded the restaurant industry’s slowest traffic and dollar growth since the recession of 2002-2003, according to research firm NPD Group. NPD’s Consumer Reports on Eating Share Trends, which tracks consumer usage of commercial foodservice, reports foodservice traffic increased 0.2 percent over a year ago for the year ended in November 2008, and consumer spending grew 2 percent. Promotion-related visits supported all commercial foodservice gains, NPD reported, as deal visits increased 6 percent and non-deal visits decreased 1 percent. For the annual period ended in November, 23 percent of all traffic involved some type of consumer-recognized deal. More than 90 percent of the increase in deal visits came from quick-service restaurants.