Calls to drop Brazil plan grow
A growing number of livestock organizations are rallying against the plan issued by USDA two weeks ago to allow imports of fresh beef from Brazil. As part of the negotiation over the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling that the U.S. unfairly supports cotton growers, WTO allowed retaliatory tariffs to be placed on U.S. products shipped to Brazil. In an effort to appease Brazilian officials and stop the tariffs, the U.S. put forward a comprehensive plan which included declaring beef imports from the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Last week in a letter sent to USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, 32 producer groups asked that the plan be reconsidered on the grounds that FMD could threaten the safety of the U.S. animal population and the livelihoods of producers.
Cargill profit doubles
Cargill said last week that net earnings during the fiscal third quarter, which ended Feb. 28, nearly doubled on gains in all five of its business segments. Net earnings were $898 million, compared with $326 million in the same period last year. The company reported $729 million in earnings from continuing operations and a $169 million net gain from discontinued operations, reflecting the sale of its Brazilian poultry and pork business to Marfrig Alimentos S.A. Cargill’s meat businesses fall under its food ingredients and applications unit, whose results, the company said, improved from the recessionary conditions that negatively affected last year’s third quarter.
Running on the power of protein
The National Beef Ambassadors are teaming up with the beef checkoff through the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative to inform Boston Marathon runners and spectators about the protein power found in lean beef. At the 2010 John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo Boston Marathon April 16-19, ambassadors were on hand to extend the message about research that shows incorporating high-quality protein into the diet throughout the day can help in maintaining a healthy weight, building muscle and fueling physical activity.
CAB posts strong sales
A trend toward more Angus genetic influence in U.S. cattle, along with higher quality grades, has led to a series of strong growth months for the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand. The 32-year-old company, a not-forprofit subsidiary of the American Angus Association, reported sales volume significantly higher than expected over the past six months. CAB Senior Vice President Brent Eichar noted that February began with a record 66 percent of the harvest mix being Angus-influenced cattle. That helps explain why three weeks in February each saw more than 70,000 cattle qualifying for the brand, an increase of nearly 45,000 head over the same weeks in 2009. For the first six months of the CAB fiscal year that began last Oct. 1, supplies for the brand are up sharply, with record sales that average nearly 21 percent higher than the previous year. Four of those six months lead the list of historically high sales volume. Eichar said sales volume could finish the year up 12 percent to 15 percent. At the upper range, that’s a 100 million pound increase over the 663 million in 2009.
Restaurants see improvement
After more than two years of slow sales and anemic guest traffic for restaurant operators, Wall Street analysts say a recovery in consumer spending may finally be here. Restaurant same-store sales appear to be rising at restaurant chains, a phenomenon witnessed in 2003 as the industry came out of a recession. Following a gain in same-store sales in May 2003, restaurant stocks jumped 45 percent over the next year. RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller agreed that a recovery may be imminent, if not already in progress. In a note to investors earlier last week, he said consumer confidence rose for the second straight month in the RBC Consumer Outlook Index. He also noted that the company’s monthly survey of restaurant spending in April showed that 16 percent of consumers plan to spend more at restaurants over the next 90 days, versus 14 percent in March.
SD Beef Ambassador event slated
The South Dakota Beef Industry Council is hosting the 2010 South Dakota Beef Ambassador competition. The state contest will be held July 23, 2010, starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Huron Event Center in conjunction with the South Dakota Spotlight Show. Cash prizes will be awarded to all three age groups. The winner in the beginner division will receive $100 and the junior will be awarded $150. The senior finalist will win $500 plus an all-expense-paid trip to the 2011 National Beef Ambassador Contest in Rapid City, SD, on Oct. 1-3, 2010. For additional information, visit www.sdbeef.org and www.nationalbeefambassador.org. To register for this event, please contact Amanda Nolz at beefnews@ hotmail.com or 605/999-4300. Registration is open until July 9, 2010.