BEEF bits

May 22, 2009
by WLJ
BEEF bits

Expanded Japan market to benefit JBS

In a conference call reviewing earnings for JBS USA, CEO Wesley Batista said in order to improve his company’s financial performance, his company will try to cut costs and expand its export business, of which Japan plays a crucial part. Batista expressed confidence that Japan’s age limit, which currently limits imports of U.S. beef to cattle under 21 months of age, will be extended to 30 months of age by negotiations of the new administration, therefore allowing better access to Japan.

Retailers keep grocery sales strong

In a new report by Food Marketing Institute (FMI), supermarket sales remain strong as more emphasis is put on private brands and deep discounting, but profit growth slowed. Slashing prices as well as emphasizing perishable items was key for gaining a competitive edge by grocers. Retailers also significantly adapted their product base to reflect consumers’ changing needs, reflected in the finding that the typical company added 2,000 new products to their shelves while removing the same number. In a separate customer survey conducted by FMI, it was found that consumers choosing full-service supermarkets as their primary store fell to 56 percent from 60 percent the previous year, while supercenters steadily gained share in the grocery market.

New grass-fed standards published

A new certification program standard for cattle, sheep and goats was recently published by Food Alliance. In order to sell Food Alliance Certified products as “grass-fed,” animals may receive no hormone or antibiotic treatments of any kind, can not be fed grain or grain byproducts, and feed exclusively on grass and forage plants. The animals are on range, pasture or in paddocks for their entire lives. All records, including appropriate affidavits attesting to compliance, must be maintained and available for inspection for 36 months after the animal is sold or harvested.

High-quality beef moving in Mid East

The Middle East, which has traditionally been a strong market for beef livers and other variety meats, is finding high-quality U.S. beef more popular, reflected in the first quarter of 2009 as beef muscle-cut exports rose 84 percent in volume and more than 40 percent in value over the same quarter last year. The trend, according to a report by U.S. Meat Export Federation Middle East representative Simon Bakht, said the increase was partly attributable to high-quality beef making the leap from the hotel, restaurant and institutional sector into the retail sector in countries such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia. U.S. beef is benefitting from excellent access to Middle Eastern markets, which have very few trade barriers, Bakht said. “We don’t have any accessibility problems in any of the Middle Eastern markets ... either for high-quality beef or for variety meats." NCBA vet named as AAA chair Dr. Elizabeth Parker, chief veterinarian for the National Cattlemens’ Beef Association (NCBA), was named as chair by the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA). Parker has served on the AAA board since 2007. Prior to joing NCBA, she was based in Rome, Italy, as international consultant, avian influenza and planning operations officer for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations where she worked on highly pathogenic avian influenza. “We are excited to have Dr. Elizabeth Parker in this key role,” said AAA Executive Vice President Kay Johnson. “She is an extremely gifted individual with experience to provide critical guidance that will build upon the Alliance’s previous successes.” Communicating the importance of the role animal agriculture has in our nation’s economy, productivity, vitality and security, is key to AAA’s mission.

Organic, grass-fed beef at Whole Foods

Panorama Meats Inc. has joined with Arapaho Ranch to offer Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef exclusively to 28 Whole Foods Market stores in the Rocky Mountain Region. “We’ve been searching for an organic, grass-fed beef supplier that would offer our shoppers high-quality beef at a good value,” said Dave Ruedlinger, meat coordinator of the Rocky Mountain Region. “Since Panorama’s beef is also local, raised and harvested within a seven-hour drive, our shoppers will revel in the taste.” Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef is produced by a group of ranchers from California, Washington, Oregon and Wyoming who raise cattle on natural grasses, legumes and range forage. Arapaho Ranch, which received USDA organic certification in 2008, is operated by the Northern Arapaho Indian tribe in Wyoming. They have raised an all-Angus herd since the 1940s. This agreement represents the first time the Northern Arapaho tribe will sell 100 percent of their beef to a retailer and the first time that grass-fed and or/certified organic beef will retail at an average of only $1 per pound above natural beef choices.