Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has asked federal authorities to help the pork industry by working out better international trade deals. In the letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Pawlenty noted that the pork industry is a $4 billion industry to the state and employs more than 55,000 people.

Previously, nine governors sent a joint letter to the USDA, asking for federal dollars to assist the struggling industry. Pawlenty turned down an invitation to sign that latter, preferring to write his own.

Source: InForum.com

Sadler's doubles distribution, goes national

Texas-based Sadler's Smokehouse Ltd. announces it has doubled its distribution in 2009 and expanded into a national company since its 2007 acquisition by Wholesome Holdings Group LLC and Brazos Private Equity Partners LLC.

A combination of new leadership, marketing strategy and packaging investment enabled the once regional company to bring its high quality smoked meats, dinners and other products to more than 7,200 retail stores nationwide, despite the recession that has driven the fully cooked category down eight percent recently.

Company leaders credit the growth to added marketing focus, teamwork with legacy management, key operational investments and a resistance to product development shortcuts and other cost-cutting methods more common with private equity acquisitions.

"When we joined forces with Harold Sadler and the Sadler family in 2007, we were attracted to the family's top quality product and the widening consumer appeal of premium pit smoked meats and barbecue," said Wholesome Holdings Chairman and CEO Terry O'Brien. "In the last two years, we've worked together to build an industry-leading team devoted to building the brand through innovation, national expansion and continual improvement."

O'Brien, who agreed to step in as CEO at Sadler's, credits three key moves for unlocking the rapid distribution expansion. First, he and founder Harold Sadler invested countless long evenings before the acquisition discussing their views on how to run a company that consistently met extremely high standards for quality, customer service, food safety and value for today's consumer. "Terry cuts no corners on the important things like quality," said Harold Sadler.

Secondly, the pair committed to a $2.5 million packaging investment to increase shelf life and provide an added layer of food safety most fully cooked food suppliers cannot offer. "I credit Brazos and our board of directors for supporting this investment immediately after our deal closed. Most private equity partners would not be so supportive so early on," says O'Brien.

Lastly, O'Brien added key management members from top consumer companies such as Smithfield, ConAgra and Schwan's, all hand-picked to fit in with the existing expert team and family culture. New products were carefully researched in advance of development then honed to meet Sadler's standards. Sadler's broker network coverage was expanded from four states to 48 states and fully integrated with Sadler's marketing team.

"Our success has allowed us to turn our attention to making Sadler's Smokehouse a much larger platform company and to continue pursuing new acquisitions," said O'Brien, who is recruiting a new CEO to allow him to move to Chairman of Sadler's' operating company. "As the credit markets ease and our brand expands, we see numerous acquisition opportunities. The key components will remain our people, our quality and our innovative approach. We believe we will be a winner in this marketplace."

Source: Sadler's Smokehouse Ltd.

Hardee's adds bologna for breakfast

Hardee's has unveiled a new breakfast sandwich, The Oscar Mayer Fried Bologna Biscuit. The sandwich consists of a slice of melting American cheese and a folded egg atop a thick-cut slice of grilled Oscar Mayer bologna, all sandwiched between a signature Hardee's Made From Scratch biscuit.

"Several of our southern franchisees have been asking us to try Fried Bologna Biscuits for some time but we initially weren't sure how popular they would be outside of the South where they originated," said Brad Haley, Hardee's executive vice president of marketing. "However, we have had success introducing other regional southern breakfast specialties, like chicken biscuits, so we gave them a try and were amazed by how great they tasted. The taste is pretty similar to that of grilled ham but with that special flavor you can only find in bologna. In fact, the Fried Bologna Biscuits received one of the highest consumer research scores we've ever seen in our market test and they sold exceptionally well. Naturally, our first choice for the bologna was the most popular brand in the country, Oscar Mayer Bologna."

Source: CKE Restaurants Inc.

Skip the coffee, pass the jerky

The Performance Enhancing Meat Snack Co. LLC has debuted its Perky Jerky, a caffeinated beef jerky combining premium strips of peppered beef with an energizing additive. Each package of Perky Jerky contains roughly the same amount of caffeine found in two cans of a popular energy drink. Perky Jerky is available on the web atwww.perkyjerky.comand will soon be available in stores nationwide.

Perky Jerky is the first ever energy jerky to be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture. More than three years in the making, Perky Jerky is a culmination of its creator's quest to formulate the world's best tasting beef jerky with a boost of energy found in no other jerky product.

"Creating an energizing meat snack was only half the battle," said Brian Levin, the entrepreneur who developed Perky Jerky. "I refused to compromise on both the taste and the effect so it took several years of trial and error to find the perfect combination of flavor and kick," he added. Perky Jerky also has just 90 calories per serving and 22 grams of protein.

Perky Jerky is flavored using a 100-percent natural additive derived from guarana, a plant native to South America, and found in many energy drinks and herbal teas. "We chose guarana because of its smooth, reliable and predictable energizing properties. It's an all-natural way to give an energetic punch to the tender, peppered beef that we use to make Perky Jerky," said Levin.

PEMS' stated goal with Perky Jerky is to bring a completely new category of meat snack to the world. "Our mission is to make Perky Jerky available anywhere and everywhere snacks and energy drinks are sold. We won't rest until we've achieved it, and given that we are rabid Perky Jerky fans ourselves, I don't see us resting any time soon," said Levin.

Source: Performance Enhancing Meat Snack Co. LLC

Texas firm recalls 200 pounds of brisket

Lone Star Brisket Company, a Thorndale, Texas, establishment, is recalling approximately 207 pounds of smoked beef products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The product subject to recall is 2- to 3-pound vacuum-packed packages labeled "Texas Star Meat Company Smoked Beef Brisker Fully Cooked." Each label bears the establishment number "EST. 27340" inside the USDA mark of inspection and a day-glo sticker "Sliced" next to the product label.
Each 50-pound case, which can be identified by the case code "222A", contains approximately 20 2- to 3-pound briskets. The smoked beef brisket products were produced on Aug. 11, 2009 and distributed to Department of Defense Commissaries in New Mexico and Oklahoma. The problem was discovered through FSIS's microbiological sampling program. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of this product.

Source: FSIS