BEEF bits

May 20, 2011
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Tyson: Demand for protein improving

Representatives of Tyson Foods Inc. told investors at the BMO Capital Markets 2011 Farm to Market Conference that sales of chicken, beef and pork improved in the past two weeks as the weather turned warm. Donnie Smith, Tyson’s president and CEO, and Noel White, senior group vice president of Tyson Fresh Meats, were presenters at the conference. “We are happy with the improvement in demand we’ve seen following a cold, wet April,” Smith said. Because beef and pork pricing are strong, many retailers and food service operators are likely to feature chicken this summer, he added. According to White, a key factor driving price is the amount of protein available to U.S. consumers. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures, protein supply has declined the past three years and is projected to decline again in 2011—an unusual trend. Strong exports have contributed to that trend. “Exports, along with production efficiencies and value-added programs, are driving our earnings,” White said. Going forward, he does not see major changes in the solid fundamentals of beef and pork. “The outlook is bright,” he concluded.

Beef export trends continue

U.S. beef exports for 2011 are forecast at 2.48 billion pounds, 8-percent growth above 2010. First-quarter exports were 32 percent above year-earlier levels. Exports in the second quarter are expected to be about 11 percent higher year-over-year. Growth is expected to taper in the third quarter and should fall below yearearlier levels in the fourth quarter as U.S. beef supplies continue to become tighter. Much of this year’s export growth continues to stem from U.S. beef export markets in Asia. First-quarter exports to South Korea and Japan were 194 and 63 percent higher than in 2010, respectively, and exports to Hong Kong were 64 percent higher. U.S. beef exports to Taiwan and Vietnam thus far in the year have been below year-earlier levels—for Taiwan, due to increased inspections in that country for specific meat residues. First-quarter U.S. beef exports to Russia have also been strong for the beginning of the year—27 percent above 2010 levels during the same period. U.S. beef exports for 2012 are forecast at 2.45 billion pounds, only fractionally lower than the current year’s forecast. Although total U.S. beef supplies will be about 4 percent lower in 2012, strong international demand for beef is expected to maintain elevated U.S. beef export levels.

USDA resumes slaughter data reports

The computer problems that had interfered with USDA’s reporting of slaughter data have been resolved, according to the agency. Last week, a spokesperson said that the data stream, which analysts use to calculate a variety of supply and demand information, was restored and that further problems with the data in the future are not expected. A number of market analysts said that the interruption in USDA slaughter data could pose problems for determining protein production and consumer supply and demand if it was not quickly restored.

AMI applauds E-Verify changes

The American Meat Institute (AMI) applauded proposed changes in the current E-Verify worker identification program included in measures President Obama announced last week as part of comprehensive immigration reform. “AMI has supported the E-Verify program and has advocated for improvements to strengthen the system. We are encouraged by the president’s recent statements to improve this important tool and we look forward to continuing our work with the administration on this issue,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle in a statement. Some of the proposed changes include: requiring mandatory use of the system, phased in over several years; increasing civil penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers; providing clearer criminal provisions and more comprehensive penalties for fraudulent use or acquisition of a Social Security card ; and piloting the development of a biometric identifier that could be potentially used for employment verification in the future.

Alliance to Feed the Future gains support

American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) has joined the Alliance to Feed the Future to help tell the story of modern farming from the heart of the family farmer. AFACT is comprised of farm families from across the country that seek to help all participants in the food chain to understand the benefits of technology used to produce affordable food with minimal impact on the environment. Misperceptions about how food is produced on modern farms are common, and AFACT farmers want consumers to have access to fact-based information that provides peace of mind about how today’s food is produced. The Alliance currently has 63 members and continues to grow. All sectors of the food value chain have come together in the alliance—including professional societies, commodity groups, farmer organizations, industry and academia. Membership in the Alliance will help multiply the effects of their individual and joint efforts to tell the true and balanced story of modern food production.