Pilgrim’s Pride has rejected the offer by Foster Farms to acquire its Farmerville, La., operations. The acquisition offer, which was brokered by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and his staff, would have cost Foster Farms $20 million, with the state matching it for a $40 million offer.

In a release, Pilgrim’s Pride noted that selling the plant does not solve the current problem of an oversupply of low-value commodity chicken in the marketplace. If the Farmerville complex were sold, it would eventually mean that another facility elsewhere would have to be shut down.

Furthermore, while Pilgrim’s does not rule out a potential sale of the facility, it would have to be at a price that was much higher than the rejected offer. “It would essentially put Foster in business at a cost of entry of $20 million, well below the real cost and at a level with which neither Pilgrim’s Pride nor the rest of the industry could effectively compete,” the company said.

Sources: Farmerville (La.) Gazette, The News-Star

Health Department says poultry likely not E. coli source

The Oklahoma Department of Health had found harmfulE. colistrains in three of 17 groundwater wells near Locust Grove, the site of a deadlyE. colioutbreak. However, the agency said that the contamination likely did not come from chickens.

The E. coli strains identified this week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were O141, O179 and O113, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “We know where these infections are found,” said Leslea Bennett-Webb, a Health Department spokesman. “They are usually in cattle or sheep, but not chickens.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has previously blamed the outbreak on the amount of chicken farms near Locust Grove. “It’s fair to say that it's more frequent in cattle and sheep,” Edmondson said. “To say none of these are found in poultry is scientifically wrong. It's just wrong. The Health Department is absolutely baffling to me.”

“These findings are additional proof of the inaccuracy of the attorney general’s unsubstantiated claim of a connection between poultry litter and last year's unfortunate outbreak,” said Tyson Foods spokesman, Gary Mickelson.

Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Pilgrim's to hire two former officers as consultants

Pilgrim’s Pride has been given approval by a U.S. bankruptcy court to hire two of its former officers to consult for the company.

In the agreement, J. Clinton Rivers, former CEO, will provide advisory and consulting services for four months at $83,500 a month, Reuters reports. Robert Wright, former chief operating officer, will provide similar services for three months at $50,000 a month.

Source: Reuters

Checkoff program touts middle meats

An aggressive beef checkoff market response plan is in place to help protect beef demand in the meat case and on restaurant menus. This plan was implemented in November, 2008, when early economic signals indicated a need to proactively address channel and consumer purchasing decisions. Factors such as affordability, value and product versatility were becoming increasingly important.

Some of the new checkoff-funded programs and promotions being executed this year to help address the current situation with middle meats (cuts from the Rib, Loin or Sirloin such as Ribeye, T-bone and Tenderloin) and keep all beef top of mind with retailers/consumers in the retail channel are:
Beef Alternative Merchandising: This program shows supermarket retailers new merchandising methods for the Top Loin, Ribeye and Top Sirloin. These new methods address price sensitivities and provide consumers with appealing portion sizes, leaner looking and more affordable cuts of their favorite steaks.
Retail Pricing Matrix: This program helps retailers identify the unique opportunity that exists with promoting middle meats. The matrix details the relationship between yielded cost, retail price and gross margin and also shows beef middle meats can be featured at competitive retail prices while still providing the retailer with a reasonable gross profit.
Slice and Save: This program is designed for the “Do It Yourself, buy in bulk,” shopper who does not mind a little extra work to save money. The program offers savings to people who buy beef in subprimal form and then choose to cut, and wrap it themselves.
Bargain Beef Bundles: It shows retailers how they can offer consumers bargain pricing when they buy beef in bulk. Home freezer sales are the top selling appliance right now. As a result, the checkoff is providing retailers and consumers ways they can save by buying beef in bulk and storing in their freezers.
Promotions and Media: More than 90 percent of consumers are using coupons to make food purchases. The checkoff wants to make sure beef is top of mind for consumers, thus, will be distributing more than 60 million coupons for beef, five times more than last year.

“We understand that consumers are cutting back and saving more, but that doesn’t mean they have to give up the beef experience,” says Don Stewart, importer from Chicago, Ill., member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and vice chair of the Global Marketing Group. “Our checkoff dollars are being wisely invested in programs such as these to help build beef demand and thus help increase producer profitability in an otherwise tough economy.”

Source: The Beef Checkoff Program

Alabama shooter, mother had ties to meat industry

Michael McLendon, who killed 10 people in Alabama this week before shooting himself, recently quit his job at a meat processor and distributor and had targeted the company on a list of people that “had done him wrong,” according to the county district attorney.

McLendon, 28, worked for nearly two years at Kelley Foods of Alabama, located in Elba, Ala. Kelley Foods is a food distributor and also manufactures its own line of products, including hot dogs, lunch meats, sausages and hams. The company said that McLendon quit last Wednesday and called him a “reliable team leader” who was well-liked, according to MSNBC.

Coffee County District Attorney Gary McAliley said that Kelley Foods was found on a list of his burned-out home, where the body of his mother, Lisa McLendon, was found. “We found a list of people he worked with, people who had done him wrong,” McAliley. Also on the list was a Pilgrim’s Pride plant near Enterprise, Ala., where his mother had recently been laid off. Lisa McLendon was the first person killed in the spree.

Source: MSNBC, Kelley Foods of Alabama