Kraft posts strong quarterly profit
Strong performances by Oscar Mayer products helped Kraft Foods Inc. more than triple earnings in the company’s fourth fiscal quarter, according to the company’s release last week. Kraft said that its U.S. Convenient Meals segment saw operating income rise 60 percent on strong volume/mix gains, improved alignment with input costs, and lower costs resulting from the company’s restructuring program. Organic net revenues in that segment rose 4 percent on the strength of Oscar Mayer products. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh meats, the company said, delivered double-digit growth on improved distribution and new product offerings. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Kraft’s profit jumped to $710 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, compared with $178 million, or 12 cents per share, in the same period last year. Sales rose 3.2 percent to $11 billion, primarily due to currency effects.
California packer expands recall
Huntington Meat Packing Inc. in Montebello, CA, added approximately 4.9 million additional pounds of beef and veal products that were not produced in accordance with the company’s food safety plan to a recall initially issued Jan. 18. According to USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, the additional products on the recall list were added after evidence gathered for a criminal investigation were produced in a manner inconsistent with the company’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan.
BPI will post E. coli test results
Beef Products Inc.(BPI) said last week at the National Meat Association’s annual conference that it will soon begin posting results of 100 percent of the company’s E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella tests on its website. The company’s founder and chairman, Eldon Roth, made the announcement after the New York Times questioned the effectiveness of the ammonia treatment used to prevent the spread of food-borne illness. The first order of business, Roth said, is having third-party auditors accredit BPI’s testing and sampling procedures in its four processing plants as well as laboratories the company uses. The plants will be audited one at a time, with the goal to have the first plant accredited and able to post results within two months or less, he said. The aim is to have all plants ready to do so within the next six to eight months, he added. The company produces approximately 600 million pounds of product per year.
USDA may shift to risk-based testing
Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza said last week that the agency may begin to change how it examines animals processed for products such as ground beef. Almanza said during a roundtable discussion during the National Meat Association’s annual meeting that the agency, at the behest of the White House, will encourage packers to treat older beef cattle similarly to the way the poultry industry utilizes spent hens. The result could send older cull cows into a chain which utilizes them only for cooked or canned products. The result could cost producers and packers millions of dollars in lost value because cow beef cuts wouldn’t be as valuable. Almanza said that meat processors need to assess whether the risks associated with buying and slaughtering animals that pose food safety risks is worth the cost savings.
Meat exports rise in December
U.S. meat exports in December rose sharply from year-earlier levels, according to USDA statistics. Shipments of U.S. beef to overseas buyers jumped 23.1 percent for the month, according to the most recent numbers available. U.S. Meat Export Federation said that pork and beef exports showed increasing momentum in the final months of the year as economies and currencies of trading partners strengthened and consumer confidence improved. Pork exports rose 14.3 percent from December 2008 while broiler exports rose 5.5 percent. Total beef exports reached slightly more than 55,000 metric tons during the month, with most of the increase going to Asian trading partners. Exports to Mexico in December rose 1.4 percent from a year ago while shipments to Canada fell 1.1 percent. Beef exports to South Korea, however, surged by 122 percent from a year ago while exports to Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong also increased.
TSCRA to offer BQA training
Beef producers can get free training to help them become more competitive by attending the Texas Beef Quality Producer (TBQP) program on Tuesday, March 9 at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center in Greenville. The session involves an intensive half-day of training. The certification program covers Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) principles, industry updates, record keeping, environmental stewardship and proper management practices associated with genetic selection, cattle handling, culling, vaccine and drug use. Participants should RSVP by March 2 to the Hunt County Extension Office at 903/455-9885, to TSCRA at 800/242-7820 or e-mail email@example.com.