BEEF bits

Mar 27, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits
Russia’s beef imports down 40 percent

Russia imported 39,000 metric tons of beef in January and February, down 40 percent on the year, the Russian National Meat Association said recently.

Pork imports during the period fell by 31 percent on the year to 53,000 metric tons, and poultry imports fell by 18 percent to 92,000 metric tons. The association said the fall in imports was due to significant meat stocks left over from last year, the sharp fall in the ruble/dollar exchange rate, and the current lack of credit available from banks. Another factor is that meat processing enterprises are experiencing financial difficulties in the current financial crisis and their outstanding debts to meat suppliers are accumulating.

MBA draws 250 in first week

The beef checkoff’s new Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program’s “Virtual Classroom” went live on Wednesday, March 11, and within one week registered more than 250 beef producers, beef safety and animal health experts, dietitians, chefs, restaurant owners, high school and college students, and even a former U.S. senator. More than 100 of those new “students” have already begun the first of six courses. The MBA program offers online tutorials in Modern Beef Production, Animal Care, Beef Safety, Environmental Stewardship, Beef Nutrition and The Beef Checkoff.

For more information or to enroll in the MBA program, send an e-mail to

Beef, pork demand up from a year ago

Demand for both beef and pork from December through February was higher than during the same period a year ago, according to livestock analysts Steve Meyer and Steiner Consulting Group. The analysts cited demand indexes recently released by University of Missouri agricultural economist Glenn Grimes showing “consumer level” beef and pork demand were up 3.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. The indexes do not separate retail and foodservice. While consumer demand is holding up, fed cattle and live hog demand aren’t faring as well, with the former falling 7.1 percent short of year-ago levels and the latter declining by 1.5 percent.

Agriprocessor’s sale comes undone

Bidders for the bankrupt Kosher processor in Postville, IA, failed to make an offer acceptable to creditors after two days of recent negotiations. Three bidders significantly increased their bids over their opening totals, but the plant’s two largest creditors still were not satisfied. The creditors, First Bank Business Capital and MLIC Asset Holding, an affiliate of Metropolitan Life Insurance, are owed a combined $26 million and can block any offer by a bidder they deem too low. The highest offer on March 24 was $15.7 million, nearly three times more than the day earlier.

Still, it is far short of the $40 million offered by the Israeli company, Soglowek Nahariya Ltd., in January. That offer was withdrawn in February.

Funding may create new beef plant

A plan that could clear the way for construction of a $110 million beef plant in Kentucky recently got a boost when the state pitched in $130,000 to fund what will serve as a “guide for construction, staffing and operation of the facility that would produce beef jerky, beef snack foods and pork rinds.” The state funding was requested by the South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative, which already pooled $65,000 of its own funds with $65,000 of funding from the McCreary Country Industrial Development Authority to help complete the plan. The next step will include seeking locations for the new facility and investors over the next several months. The plant would process 1,000 head of cattle per day and employ 750 workers.

Nutrients at a good price

The New York Times recently ran an article, “Eating Well on a Downsized Food Budget,” explaining how consumers can get the best value for their money when grocery shopping and cooking at home. Dr. Adam Drewnowski, who has performed checkoff-funded nutrition research and works with the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition, was quoted in the article recommending that consumers avoid the temptation to turn to cheap, empty calories in difficult economic times. He highlighted foods, including lean ground beef, that provide balanced nutrients for less money. The article also suggests tips for busy cooks concerned about nutrition and cost including buying family-size packages of meat and freezing it in meal-size portions.

Lean ground beef meatballs were one of the recipes suggested for “lean times.” This beef-positive article will reach more than 2.5 million consumers.