According to a report in theFarmerville (La.) Gazette, the state of Louisiana has received a firm offer from Foster Farms to purchase the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Farmerville that was scheduled to be closed within 60 days. Downsville mayor Reggie Skains confirmed late Tuesday night that he received an e-mail from Agricultural Commissioner Mike Strain stating that an offer has been made to purchase the plant for $40 million.

The deal was brokered by Gov. Bobby Jindal and members of his staff and will include what Strain called “major incentives.” An official announcement is expected to be made Wednesday.

Source: Farmerville (La.) Gazette

China to file complaint on chicken imports

China will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization against U.S. measures that it says have essentially banned the import of chicken from the country. China posted a record drop in exports last month, and called the U.S. Rules on chicken imports “unfair and malicious,” according to Bloomberg.

A portion of the 2009 U.S. Spending plan stipulates that no more funds made available under the Omnibus Appropriations Act be used to establish or implement rules allowing the import of Chinese poultry products. “What the U.S. has done amounts to cheating,” said Gong Guifen, director of the poultry division of the China Animal Agriculture Association, in a Bloomberg interview. “This is not equal trade.”

Chinese exports of chicken meat may decline 24 percent from a year earlier to 215,000 metric tons this year, according to estimates by the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Services. The nation exported 12 tons of chicken meat to the U.S. last year, the agency said.

The China Chamber of Commerce of Imports and Exports of Foodstuffs, Native Produce & Animal By-Products said March 6 that the Asian nation should ban imports of chicken from the U.S. in response to the limitations passed in the spending bill.

Source: Bloomberg

PM Beef Receives Safe Quality Food certification

PM Beef has been named a Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Level 3 Certified Supplier by the SQF Institute, a division of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). PM Beef, located in Windom, Minn., is the first U.S. beef harvest facility to receive this distinguished certification.

To earn the certification, a food supplier must not only maintain standard good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and develop and follow a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, they also must develop and maintain a quality and safety management system that provides ongoing control of food safety and quality aspects of their business.

“Being selected as an SQF-certified supplier is very important to PM Beef. We have always maintained the highest food safety and quality standards. This internationally recognized certification from a prestigious organization like the Food Marketing Institute is an external verification of our internal commitment to safety and quality,” said Lisa Hernandez, Vice President of Quality Assurance and Food Safety at PM Beef. “SQF training will be an ongoing process to ensure all current and future PM Beef employees have a continuing commitment to safety and quality.”

PM Beef is a leading domestic and international supplier of top-quality, Midwestern, corn-fed beef. The company provides its customers a wide variety of beef product lines, including PM Angus Beef, PM Natural Angus Beef, PM Retail Ready No-Trim Beef and a variety of customized solutions for their retail, foodservice and export partners.

Source: PM Beef

Belly up to the Whopper Bar

Burger King has opened the world’s first Whopper Bar restaurant at Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla. “The official opening of the world’s first Whopper Bar is designed to deliver the ultimate 'Have It Your Way' experience,” said Russ Klein, president, global marketing, strategy and innovation, Burger King Corp. “This concept allows us to deliver America’s favorite burger in a completely personalized and premium way, and serves as a unique ‘innovation lab’ for new burgers.”

Whopper bar-hoppers can select from a Whopper sandwich, Double Whopper sandwich or the new Steakhouse XT – a casual-dining quality burger that boasts an extra-thick patty – and then choose from 22 different sandwich toppings. Sandwiches are built to order by an expert “Whopper-ista” from the Whopper Topper, a visible toppings theater that allows guests to choose from favorites like A.1. Thick & Hearty steak sauce, smoked bacon, Angry onions and guacamole. Guests looking for a little guidance can opt for “Bar Favorites,” which include new sandwiches, like the Bourbon Whopper sandwich, Three-Cheese Steakhouse XT and Pepper Bacon Steakhouse XT burgers and more familiar offerings, like the Angry Whopper sandwich.

Beyond the first Whopper Bar at Universal CityWalk, Burger King Corp. is planning to introduce the concept on a global scale over the next six to 12 months, including Munich in early summer. It is also targeting additional U.S. and international locations, such as Los Angeles, New York and Singapore.

Source: Burger King Corp.

Pilgrim's denies bias in terminated grower contracts

Pilgrim's Pride decided to end some contracts with Florida-based chicken growers based on production and efficiency factors and not because of any bias, a company official testified at a court hearing. Randy Stroud, the company's senior vice president of live technical services, testified before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Lynn that the company decided to lay off a fifth of its growers and cut shifts at its Live Oak facility, which was losing $1 million a week, according to AP reports.

Some of the farmers whose contracts were terminated were Hispanic or had formed unions, and they are alleging discrimination. Staud said that Pilgrim's used a complex, industry-standard system to determine the growers' efficiency in the past year, which led to 26 growers being cut. CEO Don Jackson also testified that terminating the contracts necessary and the best option. He said slowing or stopping operations at Pilgrim's Pride plants is expected to save the company $250 million this year.

Source: Associated Press