BEEF bits

Dec 23, 2010
by WLJ

JBS, Sara Lee reportedly negotiating deal

Packing giant JBS is reportedly in talks with Sara Lee Corp. about purchasing the company after Sara Lee’s CEO stepped down earlier this year. Since that time, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, JBS has been looking at the possibility of a take-over, which would give them control over valuable brands such as Hillshire Farms meats, Jimmy Dean and others. There have been no formal announcements and company officials have refused to comment. The report cites sources which said the talks have been on and off for a number of months and Sara Lee Corp. could still refuse a sale. According to the report, Sara Lee is also considering breaking up its core meats and beverages businesses and put them up for sale, the people said. The meats business, which includes the Hillshire and Jimmy Dean labels, could fetch interest from rivals such as Smithfield, according to those familiar with the matter.

USMEF pleased with China talks

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) said last week that it was pleased to learn of the progress made during the recent session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade on several significant trade issues. In particular, the announcement that technical discussions on re-opening the Chinese market to U.S. beef will resume early next year is very encouraging news for the nation’s beef industry. When the market closed in 2003, China was just beginning to show its potential as a major destination for U.S. beef. Obviously, China’s economy has grown remarkably since that time and so have the opportunities for high-quality beef products. If the U.S. regains access to the Chinese market early next year, we estimate that 2011 beef exports will be in the range of $200 million. This would rank China among the top 10 global markets for U.S. beef, with tremendous potential for future growth. USMEF is appreciative of the efforts put forth by all U.S. agencies on this matter, and we look forward to working closely with the U.S. government and other beef industry groups to secure the prompt resumption of exports to this critical market.

CPoW makes beef donation

Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) donated over $860 worth of “Product of USA” Ground Beef to the Moses Lake Food Bank on Dec. 16. CPoW Director-District 3 Dave Dashiell was photographed with the boxes of donated beef. It was important to CPoW the donation be American lean beef for the receiving families, not only to support local ranchers, but to provide the most nutritious, healthiest beef to those in need. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef is a superb source of protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin. Beef’s combination of nutrients can play a powerful role in fueling children and the elderly who are especially in need of this protein-packed product. Penny Archer at the Moses Lake Food Bank told CPoW they serve Grant, Adams and Lincoln counties. Moses Lake alone has seen a 20 percent increase in the last 12 months. Each month, they serve 2,100 families. The donated beef, in 1-pound packages, will serve meals for 300 families.

Canadian Cargill plant to upgrade

The Calgary Herald reports Cargill will receive $3 million in grant money from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency to assist with improvements at its High River plant. The plant’s upgrades will total $42 million. The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency’s contribution is from the federal-provincial growing forward program and will be distributed over the next two years. The growing forward program will invest $273 million into Alberta’s agriculture industry between 2009 and 2013. The plant’s upgrades will meet changing requirements for export shipping, allowing Cargill to potentially triple its beef exports to Asia.

ConAgra sees quarterly profit fall

Poor shopper response to promotions helped cause ConAgra Foods Inc.’s fiscal second-quarter net income to fall 16 percent. ConAgra initially benefitted from the economic downturn as people ate at home more. But increased competition led many food makers and retailers to rely heavily on discounts and other promotions to drive sales. That strategy, however, can punish profits, particularly if consumers don’t respond as expected. ConAgra reported last Tuesday that it earned $200.9 million, or 45 cents per share, for the period ended Nov. 28. That was down from $239.7 million, or 54 cents per share, a year ago. CEO Gary Rodkin said in a statement that the company’s consumer foods’ segment was weighed down by difficult market conditions and higher-thanexpected inflation for ingredients. Revenue rose 2 percent to $3.16 billion. Revenue for the consumer foods unit edged up 1 percent to $2.1 billion while the commercial foods segment’s revenue climbed about 3 percent to $1.06 billion. Looking ahead to fiscal 2011, ConAgra expects adjusted earnings to rise at a low single-digit percentage rate from its 2010 earnings of $1.74 per share.