Smithfield Foods Inc. CEO Larry Pope spoke to shareholders at the company's annual meeting to discuss the company's difficult year as well as its plan to return to profitability. Thanks in part to an oversupply of hogs and a weakened economy, the company reported its first annual loss in more than 30 years.

The company has closed plants, renegotiated debt, sold assets and reduced its hog herd in the past year, Reuters reports. Nevertheless, Pope told shareholders, "We are structurally strong and have a strong balance sheet. As of today, this company can write a check for $1 billion and the check will clear." He also said that the pork and packaged meats businesses were doing well and predicted very positive results for the packaged meat results in the upcoming quarterly earnings.

Pope told Reuters that the pork industry will continue to suffer from an oversupply of livestock, and that Smithfield's hog unit will likely lose money through its current fiscal year, which ends in April, 2010. In June, the company reported a loss of $190 million for its fiscal year ending May 3, which was the first time that had happened since 1975.

Source: Reuters

Butterball introduces AHA-certified deli products

Butterball LLC has introduced an the Carolina Turkey Deluxe American Heart Association (AHA) certified deli products. Lower-sodium deli products from Carolina Turkey, a Butterball LLC brand, can help consumers achieve their belt-tightening goals while still enjoying healthy deli meat, the company says.

“Tightening the purse strings doesn’t mean consumers have to sacrifice health, quality or taste,” said Kari Lindell, director of retail marketing.  “Now, consumers can get the great taste they desire at the deli with AHA certified, lower-sodium deli products.”

Certification by the AHA means products contain: 3g of fat or less, 1g of saturated fat or less, 0.5g of trans fat or less, 460 mgs of sodium or less, and 20 mgs of cholesterol or less. Carolina Turkey Deluxe lower-sodium deli products were preferred over higher-sodium products, as supported by independent taste tests, and come in six flavors: Cajun, Peppered, Oven Roasted, Oil Browned, Smoked and Honey.

Carolina Turkey Deluxe AHA certified lower-sodium deli products can be found at major grocery stores beginning September 2009.

Source: Butterball LLC

Laura's Lean Beef comes up with its own “clunkers” program

A social media contest from the Laura’s Lean Beef Company based on the government’s “CARS” program has grill owners across North America posting pictures of their charcoal clunkers online in a quest to win a replacement – and the ironic title of most embarrassing backyard broiler.

The promotion called G.R.I.L.L., short for Grill Replacement Initiative from Laura’s Lean, has elicited close to 100 entries in just its first few days. A rogue’s gallery of rusty, old, last-gasp grills is available online at All of the pictures come with descriptions by their owners and many with pleas for help.

“We’re big believers in the power of social media to connect with our customers and build enthusiam for our brand,” says Chris Anderson, director of marketing and customer service for the Laura’s Lean Beef Company. “This is just one element of our outreach which also includes online recipes, cooking tips and other food and health information.”

Program updates are available daily at and New grills will be awarded three times over the next three weeks.

Source: Laura's Lean Beef LLC

Sanderson Farms' Q3 profit better than expected

Sanderson Farms reported a third-quarter profit of $43 million or $2.09 per share, beating analyst expectations of $1.88 profit. Last year's quarterly results had a loss of $3.6 million, Reuters reports. Sales for the quarter were approximately $505 million, compares to $467 million a year ago.

While demand for chicken, particularly in foodservice, is still down, Sanderson was aided by lower feed costs and higher chicken prices. CEO Joe Sanderson told Reuters that the forth quarter may show positive results as well, despite the soft demand. "While we don't think (chicken) prices are going to be as high in the fourth quarter as they were in the third quarter, we think it has the possibility of being a pretty good quarter," Sanderson said.

Sanderson Farms' new facility in Waco, Texas, is now in full production, and the company will break ground in September for a new plant in Kinston, N.C.

Source: Reuters