Pilgrim's Pride Corp. today announced plans to close its chicken processing plant in Dalton, Ga., within 60 days and consolidate production at the company's processing facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. These actions are aimed at improving the company's capacity utilization and reducing its costs.

Approximately 280 employees who work at the Dalton plant will be affected by the closing. Pilgrim's Pride will provide transition programs to employees whose positions are eliminated to assist them in securing new employment, filing for unemployment and obtaining other applicable benefits. The hatchery in Cohutta, Ga., will continue to operate. Other live production operations will also continue to function, but as a part of the Chattanooga complex or other nearby operations. Approximately 120 independent contract growers who currently supply birds to the Dalton processing plant will be transitioned to begin supplying the company's Chattanooga plant or other nearby company facilities within approximately 90 days.

There will not be any disruption in the supply of product to retail, foodservice and industrial customers as a result of closing the Dalton facility.

"The closing of the Dalton plant is part of our plan to maximize our capacity utilization and operate more efficiently as a market-driven company," said Don Jackson, president and chief executive officer. "We will continue to look for opportunities to improve our cost structure as we reorganize the company. While the decision to eliminate jobs is always painful, we are taking decisive steps now to protect the greatest number of jobs in order to restructure our business and ultimately emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger, more efficient competitor."

Source: Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

Seaboard Foods receives 2009 Governor's Award for excellence in exporting

Seaboard Foods received the 2009 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting today at the 26th Annual Oklahoma World Trade Conference. Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism, presented the award to Duke Sand, Seaboard Foods vice president of international sales.

“The company that we honor today serves as an example of the global business savvy qualities that all Oklahoma businesses should embrace in order to prosper in today’s new economy. Our future economic success lies in delivering cutting edge innovation, value-added business solutions, world-class professional services and technological advancement to the global marketplace. Through its international business achievement, Seaboard Foods represents all of these qualities and I wish them every success in continually expanding Oklahoma’s entrepreneurial and creative business spirit worldwide,” said Secretary Shirley.

In 2008, Seaboard Foods exported pork to 17 countries and has increased pork export volumes more than 20 percent annually since 2005. Based on volume, the top five countries Seaboard Foods exported to in 2008 were Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Russia and Korea, respectively. As an integrated food system, Seaboard Foods controls the entire pork production process from genetics to animal nutrition to animal care to processing and produces pork products tailored to the quality standards of specific export markets. Seaboard Foods’ pork plant in Guymon processes approximately 5.1 million head annually. Company-owned farms in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Texas produce most of the hogs processed at the plant.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to find export markets where we can add value to our existing pork products and to develop new products which can add incremental value vs. our domestic sales alternatives” says Rod Brenneman, Seaboard Foods president and CEO. “Our strategy in accomplishing this goal has been to provide export customers products they want, the way they want them and at prices that are of mutual value.

“Our ability to succeed with this strategy necessitates we are willing and able to listen, respond and interact with our potential foreign buyers,” he adds. “We focus on developing long-term relationships with our foreign customers and do not look for just opportunistic one-time sales. We have achieved export success by sticking to our goal of creating additional value and always analyzing if our export activities meet these criteria,” Brenneman says. “Seaboard Foods is honored to receive this award for excellence in exporting.”

Source: Seaboard Foods

February beef exports up 4 percent

February beef plus beef variety meat exports increased 4 percent in volume, at 145.8 million pounds, and showed a slight increase in value, at $220.5 million, over February 2008. Beef muscle cut exports increased by 9 percent in volume to 90.3 million pounds and 7 percent in value to $172.9 million, while beef variety meat exports dropped slightly in volume to 55.5 million pounds and declined nearly 17 percent in value to $47.6 million. Year-to-date through February, the latest statistics available, beef muscle cut exports have increased 11 percent in both volume and value over the same period last year, while variety meat exports have declined 11 percent in volume and 20 percent in value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the beef checkoff’s contractor for foreign market development.

“Slumping currencies in both Mexico and Canada have been affecting U.S. beef exports to those two markets, but said that situation is starting to improve,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “We are also seeing some impact from the declining volume of live cattle imports from those two countries, which is increasing their own domestic beef supplies.”

Increased beef exports to South Korea and Vietnam helped overcome declines in the beef industry’s leading markets of Mexico and Canada.

Beef exports to Korea slumped near the end of 2008, with December results totaling 7.4 million pounds valued at $15.2 million. But the new year has seen a rebound in exports to Korea, with the January-February monthly average now standing at 14.4 million pounds with an average value of $24.9 million. This places Korea third among all destinations for U.S. beef – trailing only Mexico and Canada – in both volume and value.

Vietnam ranks fourth in volume and fifth in value for U.S. beef plus beef variety meat exports, with year-to-date exports to Vietnam doubling in volume over 2008 to 24.2 million pounds and increasing 174 percent in value to $36.2 million.

Japan continues its steady rise as a destination for U.S. beef exports, with 2009 totals through February increasing by 19 percent in volume (to 8,056 metric tons or 17.8 million pounds) and 17 percent in value (to $43.3 million).

The strong performance of these markets helped offset a slowdown in exports to Mexico, Canada and Taiwan. Though Mexico and Canada have held their position as the top two destinations for U.S. beef, year-to-date exports to Mexico have declined 22 percent in volume to 113 million pounds and 17 percent in value to $179.1 million. Export volume to Canada declined 14 percent to 39.9 million pounds and by 22 percent in value to $73.1 million. Beef exports to Taiwan have dropped even more sharply, declining by 29 percent in volume to 6.1 million pounds and 28 percent in value to $13.3 million.

Source: The Beef Checkoff Program