BEEF bits

Jun 29, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits
Agriprocessors plant may have buyer

According to the Des Moines Register, the Agriprocessors Inc. Kosher meat plant has been sold to a Canadian firm. The sale will include the payment of at least $8.5 million of the $21 million owed to credi- tors of Agriprocessors after the company filed bank- ruptcy. According to the report, SHF Industries LLC filed for a license in Iowa in early May to permit the sale of the plant. SHF Industries’ chief executive is Hershey Friedman, a Montreal-based businessman who is the president of Polystar Packaging in Canada.

Mr. Friedman agreed to purchase the plant on an “as-is” basis on May 6 along with two additional investment partners. The sale must be approved by the judge overseeing the Agriprocessors bankruptcy proceedings. According to the report, SHF Industries will resume beef slaughter operations and continue with poultry slaughter at the plant.

Circle Foods doubles capacity

San Diego, CA-based ethnic food company Circle Foods announced it has completed a new facility that will double its production capacity and add 30 to 50 new jobs this year. The new 132,000-square-foot facili ty will drive all parts of its business forward, from new recipe development to production, packaging and warehousing capabilities, said Eric Brenk, general manager and chief operating officer of Circle Foods.

The company’s brand portfolio of fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods includes La Terra Fina, Tortillaland, Rotiland and Nuevo Grille. The newest Circle Foods products were introduced in March 2009 as a trio of Mexican foods from Nuevo Grille including: Grilled Mini Chicken Soft Tacos, Grilled Four Cheese Quesadillas and Grilled Carne Asada Quesadillas.

Circle Foods products are available in grocery and club stores nationwide, including Costco, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Consumer’s menu focus shifts

A recent survey conducted by consumer research firm Mintel, found that only 20 percent of American diners rank food health as an important factor when ordering dinner. Far more essential are taste (77 per- cent) and hunger satisfaction (44 percent) when scan- ning a dinner menu. Although more than three-quar- ters of adults claim they’d like to see more healthy items on the menu, barely half (51 percent) said they usually order them. Price remains a deterrent to healthy restaurant fare, especially as the economy weighs down people’s finances. Over half of Mintel’s survey respondents (54 percent) said eating healthy at restaurants is more expensive than not eating healthy. Mintel surveyed 2,000 adults online in February.

EU sets new rules for plants

European farm officials have agreed to new rules aimed at minimizing the suffering of livestock during slaughter, according to a Dow Jones report. Set to take effect in 2013, the new rules stipulate that slaughterhouses must regularly monitor and maintain proper stunning techniques to ensure animals don’t regain consciousness before slaughter. Slaughterhouses also must appoint an official to manage animal welfare practices and train and certify plant workers who handle livestock. As large corporations such as Smithfield Foods Inc. increase their footprint in Europe, large livestock farms and slaughterhouses have become more commonplace in the region.

Russia resumes imports from processor

Russia has relisted a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant as an approved exporter after learning that the facility has maintained a high standard of salmonella prevention, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said. The Russellville, AL, plant was allowed to resume exports of poultry produced on or after June 19. Moscow had delisted the plant based on a finding of salmonella on raw product originating from this facility during testing in Russia. The plant was relisted by Russian officials after the company and USDA provided information showing that results from salmonella testing completed in the U.S. were all negative for the prior 16 months and that the plant is in Category 1 for FSIS’ salmonella performance standard testing program.

Sow retirement plan cancelled

A group of U.S. pork producers who proposed the Producer Retirement Program (PRP) announced Thursday that the sow cull program will not take effect due to a lack of participation. “Market conditions have changed dramatically for the worse for the pork industry in the past few months,” Chuck Wirtz, chairman of the board of directors of the PRP, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, since this group of pork producers began work designing the PRP, most producers with sows are no longer in a financial position to support the program.” The PRP was designed to supplement the cull price that the members would otherwise receive for their sows if they decided to exit sow production for two years. The retirement program was dependent on enough pork producers with sows signing up and paying a $20-per-sow subscription.