U.S. beef remains competitive
First-quarter 2010 exports of U.S. beef increased 25 percent from 2009. This growth largely stems from the increasing U.S. sales in several Asian markets, namely in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Firstquarter 2010 exports to Japan and South Korea improved 30 and 9 percent, respectively, above yearearlier levels. The strength of the Australian and New Zealand dollars, coupled with strong U.S. beef marketing campaigns in Japan and South Korea, has shifted some of the market share away from Australia and New Zealand, the United States’ primary competitors for these markets. The result is respective U.S. market share increases of 54 and 31 percent in Japan and South Korea, compared with the same quarter last year. Beef exports to Hong Kong increased 143 percent. First-quarter beef exports to the United States’ second largest export market, Canada, increased nearly 20 percent from year-earlier levels. The U.S. dollar continued its decline against the Canadian dollar throughout the first-quarter, fueling exports to Canada. U.S. beef exports to all countries for 2010 are forecast at 2.1 billion pounds, an increase of more than 10 percent from 2009.
Meatless Mondays endorsed by TV chef
Last week the Washington Post reported that the Meatless Monday campaign is gaining attention with the endorsement of a nationally-known chef-restaurateur. Mario Batali, the chef famous for his pork recipes, has adopted the Monday campaign and will offer two special vegetarian meals in each of his 14 restaurants including Bar Jamon in New York, NY, and Carnevino in Las Vegas, NV. The addition of Batali to the Meatless Monday movement has led the meat industry to conduct research showing livestock production’s impact on greenhouse gases and a healthy diet. Research shows the effects of livestock production on the environment are not as bad as previously stated and there are health benefits in meat that a plantbased diet will not provide.
JBS beef unit posts record profit
JBS USA said last week that the company had posted record-breaking first quarter profits this year. The gains came as a result of improved domestic and foreign sales. The Greeley, CO-based company said that the U.S. beef division had net earnings of $170.5 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) on an EBITDA margin of 6 percent. That compares with $59.7 million on an EBITDA margin of 2.2 percent in the same quarter last year. Sales rose 5.5 percent to 2.82 billion. Average domestic and export prices rose 13.5 percent and 58.6 percent, respectively, in the latest quarter. JBS USA’s pork division also posted EBITDA earnings of $34.9 million on a margin of 5.4 percent, compared with $7.5 million and $1.4 percent in the same period last year. Sales rose 6.6 to $646 million. Average domestic and export prices increased respectively by 5.4 and 9.4 percent.
USDA sets new school lunch standards
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the agency has completed its long-awaited new standards for ground beef products purchased by the National School Lunch program and other nutrition assistance programs. The new requirements, which go into effect for contracts signed after July 1, 2010, include a continuing zero-tolerance policy for E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella. Additionally, the standards will increase microbiological testing protocols; tighten the microbiological upper specification and critical limits; increase microbiological sampling frequency for finished products to every 15 minutes; and institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture AMS-purchased ground beef. AMS will also consider any vendor classified by FSIS as having a long-term poor safety record as an ineligible vendor until a complete causeand-effect analysis is completed.
Brazilian beef faces recall
A Chicago, IL, firm, Sampco Inc., announced last week that it is recalling 87,000 pounds of beef products that may be tainted with Ivermectin. The recall, which was published by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, includes12-oz. cans of “Libby’s Corned Beef” distributed to retail locations nationwide and 35-lb. boxes of “Seasoned Cooked Beef” distributed for further processing. Each product package bears “Brasil 337 S.I.F” on either the top or the side, as well as “Product of Brazil” or “Packed under Brazilian Government Inspection.” The problem was discovered through FSIS routine sampling. Since March 15, 2010, samples from cooked beef products imported from Brazil establishment SIF 337 have resulted in 12 instances in which the level of Ivermectin found in the product exceeded the tolerance level established by the FDA of 10 parts per billion in beef muscle.