BEEF bits

Mar 13, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Vesta named president of JBS-U.S.

JBS S.A. has named beef industry veteran Rich Vesta as president and chief operating officer of the company’s U.S. beef operations based in Greeley, CO, the company said in a press release. “Rich shares my passion for the beef industry and my commitment to developing a high-performance culture in which our employees can achieve their full potential,” JBS CEO Wesley Batista said. “Rich has spent the last 30 years of his life serving in key leadership roles throughout the beef industry where he has acquired thorough knowledge of every facet of our business.” Vesta previously served as president and CEO of JBS-Packerland after JBS acquired Smithfield Beef Group last year and renamed the business.

Cargill launches retail promotion

Cargill is partnering with grocery retailers on a promotion focused on ground beef meal solutions centered around the theme ‘Feed the Whole Family for $10.’ “This program helps retailers address the economic pressures their customers are facing by providing costeffective meal solutions as well as all of the recipes and preparation tips they need,” said Elizabeth Gutschenritter, Cargill brand manager. “Our goal in collaborating with retailers on this promotion is to ensure that consumers have a positive experience with the product by arming them with easy-to-prepare, great-tasting recipes that may provide a new experience with ground beef and spur repeat purchase.”

JBS considering more mergers

JBS S.A. is open to considering mergers with Brazilian meatpackers that are struggling to survive amid an economic crisis, according to Brazilian newspapers.

“We are open to listening to proposals from meatpackers that would fit into our strategy and our philosophy,” JBS’s Jose Batista Jr. was quoted as saying. The comment aligns with that of JBS CEO Wesley Batista who wrote in the company’s latest earnings report that the company would “govern by caution” in 2009 but be “vigilant toward investment opportunities which could add value to our balance sheet.” JBS recently announced that some of its Brazilian beef plants would increase production as its competitors falter amid sharp drops in export business and credit.

Checkoff helping sell middle meats

The Beef Checkoff Program announced it has created a new tool, the Retail Pricing Matrix, designed to help retailers promote middle meats. The checkoff funded the Retail Pricing Matrix tool to assist retailers in quickly determining retail prices while accurately predicting “going in gross” on selected middle meats.

The gross margins reflected in the matrix are attainable when based upon commonly used cutting techniques for retail cuts. Cutting test yield information is also included on each matrix as a reference. According to Urner Barry and CattleFax, the wholesale price for a Choice Rib, Ribeye Roll, Lip-On was $4.14 per pound in February 2009, the lowest since January 2002. Wholesale prices for the Striploin subprimal have also returned to 2002 levels.

Humane handling info for packers

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said it is offering a free DVD and companion booklet titled “Humane Handling of Livestock with Dr. Temple Grandin” to help small and very small establishments avoid the pitfalls of noncompliance. The booklet explains the four key elements of the approach FSIS recommends, which includes treating livestock in ways that minimizes excitement, discomfort and accidental injury. It is paired with an existing DVD that has been issued before. The booklet also gives examples of types of observations FSIS inspectors make to ensure compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and with good commercial practices. A list of research publications and a checklist for humane livestock handling are provided at the end of the booklet.

Consumers confident in beef

Consumers are confident in the safety of their ground beef, steaks and roasts despite a rise in their overall concern about food safety in recent months, according to a survey funded by the beef checkoff.

More than two-thirds of consumers in this survey said they believe the number of food recalls and foodborne illnesses is on the rise. Just 49 percent of consumers answered in the same way in November 2008. When asked about the beef industry’s efforts to improve beef safety, 81 percent agreed that the entire beef industry—from ranchers to processors and retailers—is working together to provide consumers with safe, wholesome food. Seventy-eight percent of consumers agreed that safeguards developed by beef industry scientists have made ground beef safer than ever.