BEEF bits

Mar 20, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Beef exports strong in January

Strong U.S. beef and pork exports in January defied predictions that sluggish global economies and volatile currencies would dampen them, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. USDA data showed beef muscle cut exports jumped 13 percent in volume and 15 percent in value compared to January 2008. Because beef variety meat exports declined in both volume and value, total beef plus beef variety meat exports were up 4 percent in value and essentially held even with January 2008 in volume. January beef exports to Mexico, however, were down nearly 10 percent and shipments to Canada were down 30 percent from a year ago. Those declines were offset by increasing exports to Asia, including strong sales to South Korea, which was closed to U.S. beef during the first half of 2008.

Tyson completes Canadian beef sale

Tyson Foods recently announced that it has completed the sale of its Canadian beef operations to XL Foods. Nine months after Tyson announced that it would sell the Alberta-based Lakeside company which feeds, slaughters and processes cattle, the deal is complete. Tyson said Lakeside wasn’t compatible with its long-term international business strategy.

“We extend our appreciation to the employees of Lakeside for their hard work over the years and for their patience as we sorted through the details of the ownership change,” Tyson interim President and CEO Leland Tollett said in a statement. “We’re also grateful to the community of Brooks and the province of Alberta for their support of Lakeside and the Canadian beef industry.”

Carl’s Jr. unveils bourbon burger

Available for a limited time, Carl’s Jr. has announced a new menu item known as the Kentucky Bourbon Burger. Topped with Kentucky bourbon sauce, the burger will be featured in a new commercial by Los Angeles-based advertising agency Mendelsohn Zien. Titled “Surgeon,” the commercial will feature a doctor who loves the taste of bourbon and “loves to knock back a big one between surgeries,” or have a Kentucky bourbon burger in the doctor’s lounge. “There’s something about the flavor of Kentucky bourbon that goes well with the taste of a charbroiled burger,” said Brad Haley, Carl’s Jr. executive vice president of marketing. “So, Carl’s Jr. is, once again, glad to be the first to bring that combination to fast-food consumers in a delicious, zero proof burger.”

Most consumers don’t ‘buy local’

Although the “buy local” movement has received plenty of media attention, most U.S. consumers are not actually buying local products, according to a survey from research firm Mintel. The survey found that just 17 percent of adults buy local products and services as often as possible. These “True Locals,” as Mintel dubs them, are willing to pay a higher price, and they’ll even buy local if competitive products are better. But the overwhelming majority of American shoppers don’t feel so strongly. Mintel identified 30 percent of survey respondents as “Aspirational Locals” who say they would purchase local goods and services but don’t know where to find them. Twentyseven percent of adults are “No Locals,” not caring where their meats, dairy products or vegetables come from.

YouTube used to address meat concerns

The American Meat Institute (AMI) has released a new video online which covers the latest science on the nutritional value of processed meat. Aimed at consumer viewers and using the popular Internet video side YouTube, the video is called “Processed Meats: New Stories About Old Myths.” “While some organizations over the last year have sought to malign the nutritional value and safety of processed meat products, the science supports the fact that processed meats can be part of a healthy, balanced diet,” said AMI Executive Vice President James Hodges.

The video includes interviews with health experts, including Dr. David Klurfeld, national program leader in human nutrition at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and Dr. Nathan Bryan, associate professor of molecular medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Dairy cow slaughter boosts production

Based on USDA reports through February 2009, cow slaughter continues at a high rate compared with the same period in 2008 and represents a slightly larger share of the Jan. 1 cow inventory than last year’s slaughter. The high slaughter rates are due primarily to increased dairy cow slaughter, a result of low milk prices as well as an extended multi year period of below-normal precipitation in California and the southern Plains since late fall 2008. Projected cumulative 2009 dairy cow slaughter through February was 16 percent higher than for the same period in 2008. Projected cumulative 2009 beef cow slaughter through February, while about even with year-earlier levels, is still about 5 percent above same-period 2007 levels, which were based on a 2 percent larger Jan. 1 cow inventory.