Sara Lee Corp. reported net sales of $3.2 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, ending June 27, 2009, a decline of 9.8% compared to $3.5 billion in the comparable period last year. For fiscal 2009, net sales were $12.9 billion, a decrease of 2.5% compared to $13.2 billion in the prior year. Net sales increased in the North American fresh bakery and retail segments, up 8.5% and 5.9% respectively, but these increases were more than offset by the impact of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates, most notably the euro, and divestitures made during the year.

Adjusted net sales decreased 1.3% in the fourth quarter, but increased 2.7% in fiscal 2009. Adjusted net sales exclude acquisitions/divestitures and present fiscal 2008 net sales at fiscal 2009 foreign currency exchange rates.

“I am pleased to report that we’ve just completed our second consecutive year of strong overall performance, despite tough economic and competitive headwinds,” said Brenda C. Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corp. “Our 2009 results reflect the significant progress we have made in transforming Sara Lee and focusing the company on core businesses with large and growing brands in important categories. We’ve dramatically improved efficiencies and productivity across the board, while fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration. We’ve built a solid foundation and will continue to invest in the future. We are confident that we will continue to execute our growth strategy in fiscal 2010 and in the years to come,” she added.

Sara Lee reported fourth quarter operating income of $65 million, compared to an operating loss of $506 million for the year-ago period, while adjusted operating income was $331 million, down 6.2% compared to the year-ago period. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, the company incurred non-cash, pre-tax impairment charges of $207 million associated with goodwill balances and other long-lived assets at the Spanish bakery business, as well as $61 million of other charges for significant items (as detailed in the table "Impact of Significant Items on Income from Continuing Operations and Net Income").

For the fiscal year, the company reported operating income of $713 million in fiscal 2009, up significantly from $260 million in fiscal 2008. Adjusted operating income was $1.02 billion in fiscal 2009, compared to $1.0 billion in the prior year, an increase of 1.9%. Adjusted operating income excludes the impact of significant items, contingent sale proceeds and acquisitions/divestitures and presents fiscal 2008 results at fiscal 2009 foreign currency exchange rates.

Fourth quarter results were a net loss of $14 million in fiscal 2009 compared to a net loss of $672 million last year primarily due to significant impairment charges in both years.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.

Processor involved in Salmonella recall cited for animal-handling violations last year

Beef Packers Inc., a Fresno, Calif.-based processor that recalled approximately 826,000 pounds of ground beef last week over fears it was contaminated with Salmonella, was found to been given animal-handling citations last year in a government review of companies participating in the school lunch program.

The AP reports that USDA auditors visited the plant last March and found that workers were using electric prods to coax some cattle through a chute into the slaughterhouse. Three cows that refused to move were stunned unconscious and pulled into the facility to be slaughtered, a process that could increase Salmonella risk by dragging the animal across a dirty floor.

The plant's parent company, Cargill Meat Solutions, protested the citations, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service rescinded them, sending the processor a letter of concern instead.

Source: Associated Press

Dietz & Watson takes protest to the people

Dietz & Watson is launching an attack in the Charlotte, N.C., area against deli case exclusivity after the company's meats and cheeses were removed from Harris Teeter to make way for Boar's Head products. The protests have included a number of billboards and samplings in the Charlotte area and will include a blind taste test on Thursday, putting the two company's products against each other.

Harris Teeter said it made the decision to remove Dietz & Watson products while bring in Boar's Head because of the difficulties of carrying offering from two companies in the same case, the Charlotte Observer reports. Dietz & Watson maintains that Boar's Head requires its supermarket customers to carry its products exclusively Dietz & Watson CEO Louis Eni has said he would be happy to compete with Boar's Head and would not require exclusivity.

The Philadelphia-based processor has run radio advertisements, placed 25 billboards in the Charlotte area, calling its meats and cheeses “The right choice for Charlotte.” It has also conducted samplings at 28 Harris Teeter stores in Charlotte and Raleigh. On Thursday, the company will conduct a blind taste test at the EpiCentre, allowing consumers to try Dietz & Watson London broil and Buffalo chicken against the Boar's Head versions.

Source: The Charlotte Observer

Boar's Head debuts oven-roasted chicken breast

Boar's Head introduces EverRoast Oven Roasted Chicken Breast, available beginning this month in select supermarkets, gourmet stores and fine delicatessens nationwide. The company notes that the chicken is made by starting with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and taking the time overextended, busy cooks don't have and follows a slow-roasted chicken recipe to achieve melt-in-the-mouth tenderness with a homemade accent.

"We choose only the leanest and best hand-trimmed chicken breasts available," notes Boar's Head president Michael Martella, "and we try to accommodate today's busy cooks."

Carrots, celery, onions, and parsley form the seasoning blend of EverRoast Oven Roasted Chicken, providing a distinctively homemade chicken flavor and an enticing caramelized color.

Executive Chef Frank Brunacci of Trump Chicago International Hotel & Tower sums up how many professional chefs feel about the new roasted chicken. "EverRoast is a new leader in its category. Nothing comes close," he says. "Working in a busy kitchen, having to satisfy guests from around the world, I always look for products that are all about built-in flavor. You get the whole chicken-roasted flavor in this product, so moist and delicious; it's all you need for a main course, a great sandwich or an unlimited number of recipes that call for already roasted chicken."

The EverRoast Oven Roasted Chicken launch will include one of the company's most ambitious sales-and-marketing endeavors, making its way to thousands of supermarkets, independent delis, and food service establishments, complete with national radio advertising and television spots on the Food Network and Discovery Channel as well as numerous in-store selling events.

Source: Boar's Head