Pilgrim's Pride Corp. announced plans to close its corporate headquarters building in East Texas and a satellite corporate office in Atlanta as part of its continued integration with JBS USA. Both offices are expected to close within approximately 60 days as most corporate functions are consolidated at JBS USA's headquarters in Greeley, Colo.

Many Pilgrim's Pride employees at the two corporate offices have been offered positions at other company facilities. However, the closure of the two offices will lead to the elimination of 158 positions at the Pilgrim's Pride headquarters in Pittsburg, Texas, and the elimination of 55 jobs at the satellite corporate offices in suburban Atlanta. Most employees whose jobs are being eliminated were notified over the past two weeks. The layoffs are expected to begin around June 14, 2010, and will affect both salaried and non-salaried employees in all functional areas. The company will provide severance benefits, including outplacement assistance, to affected salaried and salaried non-exempt employees. There will be no impact on Pilgrim's Pride processing facilities or operations, as none of the jobs being eliminated are production-related.

"We recognize that the closing of these two offices, particularly our headquarters facility in Pittsburg, will create pain and uncertainty for those employees who are being laid off, as well as the local community," said Don Jackson, Pilgrim's Pride president and CEO. "Decisions like this are always very difficult because they impact the lives of employees who have given so much to Pilgrim's Pride over the years. While we will continue to maintain a very large presence in East Texas through our production operations in Mt. Pleasant and a smaller administrative office in Pittsburg, most corporate functions will be relocated to JBS USA's headquarters by June. This consolidation is critical to our ability to realize the full benefits of our integration into JBS."

Source: Pilgrim's Pride Corp.

National Steak & Poultry lays off 59

National Steak & Poultry Inc., which recalled nearly 250,000 pounds of non-intact steaks after a series of illnesses, announced that it is laying off 59 people in its Owasso, Okla., meat processing plant and headquarters.

In a written statement, company officials blamed the cutback on the poor economy, reports the Tulsa World.

“As the food-service industry continues to experience the effects of the recession, we must take these measures which allow us to sustain our business and provide for the remaining 375 team members and their families,” CEO David S. Albright said in the statement.

There were at least 19 illnesses linked to the 2009 recall, which stretched across six states.

Source: Tulsa World

Rising meat costs to challenge consumer

Cattle, hog and poultry prices are on the rise, but the question remains if consumers will be averse to paying higher prices for their meat the next time they visit the grocery store. In an article in the Chicago Tribune, some farmers reported their concern about the rising costs of meat and the affect they will have on consumer buying habits.

"It is a big concern," said Brent Scholl, a Polo, Ill.-based producer. "We need a product that people are going to want, even if it costs more." Scholl, who heads the Illinois Pork Producers Association, said that he marketed 13,000 hogs at an average loss of $22 per hog in 2008 and 2009. He is now turning a profit on each hog sold and is using the futures market to lock in favorable prices for the near future.

Animal herds in the country have reduced in size, which helped to lead to higher prices for producers. Rising exports and relief from last year's H1N1 scare have also helped the industry. Some traders do expect volatility in the markets ahead, though.

"We've got a lot of premium already built in," warned Jason Roose, vice president at the U.S. Commodities Inc. trading firm in Iowa.

Scholl has simple advice for the consumer: Buy more meat, now. "I'd be buying ahead," he said.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Arby's launches $1 value menu

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. is adding more lower priced items to its menu with the national launch of a new Value Menu that will be supported by new advertising.

The new Value Menu, which starts at $1, features Arby’s signature items, including an oven-roasted, freshly sliced Roast Beef sandwich, Curly Fries and Jamocha Shake. The menu will be refreshed periodically to showcase seasonal favorites and other signature offerings.

The new Value Menu complements the existing $5.01 Combos the company launched in September. The combos feature a choice of one of five full-sized sandwiches, a small order of fries and a small drink for $5.01.

“Arby’s is the only place you’ll find roast beef sandwiches on a value menu that are slow-roasted in-house every day and served from the convenience of a drive-thru,” said Steve Davis, chief marketing officer, Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. “To know us is to love us…our fans have a strong connection to the brand, our great food and sauces and more because we’re so unique. The Value Menu offers those fans an affordable way to get their hands on some of Arby’s classics.”

Source: Arby's Restaurant Group Inc.