A day after Nestle announced a recall of 6,000 pounds of bacon base due to a previously recalled hydrolyzed vegetable protein that was used an ingredient, two more meat-related recalls have been announced for the same reason.

Ruiz Foods Inc., a Denison, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 115,700 pounds of a ready-to-eat beef product that may be contaminated with Salmonella. The products subject to recall include 8.4 ounce boxes of "Tornados Ranchero Beef & Cheese." The product was produced on Dec. 23, 2010, Jan. 23, 2010, Jan. 28, 2010, Jan. 30, 2010, Jan. 31, 2010, and Feb. 1, 2010.

Additionally, Windsor Foods, a firm with operations in Lampasas, Texas, and Oakland, Miss., is recalling approximately 1.7 million pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) beef taquito and chicken quesadilla products. The products recalled are under several brands, including José Olé, El Pasado, Casa Solana, Giant Eagle, E-Z Eats! and Posada.

In each case, the recalled items contain as an ingredient the specific hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), which was previously recalled, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of the HVP product on March 4, 2010. A recall of the products was warranted because the HVP ingredient was added after Salmonella prevention steps were applied. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with the consumption of any of these products.

Source: FSIS

Meyer Natural Foods announces new retail marketing strategy

Meyer Natural Foods, the parent company of Laura’s Lean Beef and Meyer Natural Angus, announced its new go-to-market strategy as the one-stop solution for naturally raised beef at the American Meat Institute’s Annual Meat Conference. The new strategy aligns the company’s core brands into a powerhouse of natural beef offerings.

“Two of the fastest growing consumer segments are health-conscious shoppers and conscientious connoisseurs,” said Bill Rupp, CEO of Meyer Natural Foods. “Our vision is to provide retailers with the highest quality natural beef programs to help them reach these distinct consumer groups. Laura’s Lean Beef and Meyer Natural Angus are uniquely positioned to deliver on those needs.”

Previously, the two brands operated as independent businesses. Bringing them together operationally allows the company to identify synergies, including natural cattle protocols, to establish the standard for natural beef in the marketplace.

“Our retail partners will benefit from the efficiency and convenience of working with one natural beef supplier, as Meyer Natural Foods will be able to manage stronger and more profitable retail programs in turn-key fashion,” said Rupp.

Source: Meyer Natural Foods

Indiana processors sound off on state inspection cuts

Cuts in the Indiana budget will mean that some of the state’s 52 meat inspectors will be laid off. While the cuts won’t be as dramatic as the 50% cuts that were initially planned, processors and farmers fear that the layoffs could hurt an industry that has shown steady growth.

"We're one of the small businesses in Indiana that showed growth in a recession year," said Steve Beutler, past president of the Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association. "Now we can't grow."

Beutler said his payroll grew from 15 to 20 workers last year, and that's typical, reports the Associated Press. At a recent meeting of 30 of the state's roughly 130 meat processors, all said their revenues and hiring increased last year, he said.

The cuts spotlight the dilemma that is facing Indiana legislators, who may be forced to cut programs that are essential to growing business segments, thus depriving the state of tax revenues in the future. Many state-inspected plants are operating under new inspection schedules that have inspectors spending fewer days or partial days in slaughterhouses.

Greg Fisher, president of the Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association, said the group recognizes the need for the state to balance its budget but some processors have been reduced to just one inspection day per week.

"I think they are cutting too much. I think agriculture and agriculture-related businesses are the next wave of growth, and I think our state should be embracing it more than they are," said Fisher.

Source: Associated Press

Recession continuing to affect consumer meat-purchasing habits

The fifth edition of The Power of Meat, a joint study by the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute, finds that the recession is continuing to impact food purchasing and consumption behavior, including the meat department.

While meat consumption measured in tonnage was up significantly in 2009, the dollars are lagging behind as shoppers opt for cheaper cuts and prices dropped in 2009. Forty percent of shoppers say they have changed the way they purchase meat and poultry compared with before the recession, down from 51 percent in 2009. This is also significantly less than the 50 percent who are spending less on groceries overall, signifying the strength of meat and poultry in the total food consumption.

Yet, the impact of income cannot be underestimated as 62 percent of shoppers who saw a significant drop in household income have altered their meat shopping. More customers are also cooking at home versus eating out, leading to an increase in meat purchases at supermarkets and other retail outlets.
The report, which details the findings of a national online poll of 1,174 consumers conducted in November 2009, was released at the 2010 Annual Meat Conference. The American Meat Institute (AMI) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) published this consumer research, which was sponsored by Sealed Air’s Cryovac Food Packaging Division.

How Shoppers Save Money in the Meat Case: Consumers take a wide variety of money-saving measures including bulk purchasing, buying on deal, trading down, substituting and eliminating groceries in general, and meat and poultry specifically. Pre-store research has become routine for many shoppers: 78 percent read grocery flyers to find the best price per pound, 73 percent buy cheaper cuts of meat and poultry and 74 percent take advantage of sales promotions. Others are finding ways to stretch their meat dollar by cooking casseroles and pasta dishes as well as meatless meals.

In-Store Signage Top Marketing Measure: When customers were asked to rate six factors that influence their purchases, price ranked first with a score of 4.5 on a 6-point scale, well ahead of appearance. Using circulars and newspaper advertisements, 66 percent of shoppers compare meat and poultry prices at different stores and 86 percent compare prices of different brands and cuts once in the store.
As a result, in-store signage and in-store promotions are enormously important sales drivers of meat and poultry. While nutrition information and recipes play a role in the purchasing decision, it is price that for many shoppers ultimately decides where they shop, what they buy, how much they buy and if the meat is natural/organic or conventional.
The share of shoppers to whom brand is unimportant is up to 74 percent for fresh meat and 62 percent for processed meat.

Meat Consumption and Meal Preparation: In an average week, shoppers prepare four evening meals that include a meat item. These meals may range from frozen entrees to meals cooked from scratch. Chicken and beef continue to dominate the American dinner plate, with pork and fish a distant third and fourth. The vast majority of shoppers (78 percent) prepare fresh meat at least once a week and most even three times a week (53 percent).

Meat Case Versus the Service Counter: With 73 percent of all shoppers aware of case-ready meat, many believe the quality of pre-packaged meat and poultry is equal to or better than that cut and packaged in the store. This high level of trust in case-ready meat translates into a median of 90 percent of meat and poultry purchases originating from the self-service case. More than one-quarter of shoppers buy case-ready meat exclusively.
Reasons prompting shoppers to use the full-service counter include specialty cuts, special occasions and quantities not available in the meat case. Shoppers refer to family gatherings, holidays, barbeques and other special occasions for using the full-service counter.

Econo-Sizing Meets Rightsizing?: Despite the economic factors, health and well-being are still highly valued in today’s society, and food plays a major role. Almost two-thirds of shoppers put some (45 percent) or a lot (25 percent) of effort into eating healthfully, but the rate of success is much lower. Despite best intentions to eat better, 42 percent say they succeed in doing so less than half of the time.
As part of shoppers’ healthy-eating strategies, they are the most likely to cut back on meat/poultry portion sizes or second helpings, followed by selecting low-sodium processed meats and eating fish or seafood more regularly. Some shoppers are cutting back on their meat intake both from a savings point of view and as a strategy to improve their diets. In terms of ingredients, shoppers’ focus is back to fat, sodium and calories.

Improving the Meat Department: While some shoppers state that quality and variety would prompt them to increase their meat purchases at their primary store, the most frequently mentioned suggestions in this year’s survey revolve around price. Shoppers are asking for sales promotions, meal deals, price cuts and once again underlined the importance of price in the meat department.

Organic and Natural Meat: A steady 18 percent of shoppers have purchased organic or natural meats in the past three months, with younger shoppers most likely to purchase organic meat and poultry. Natural and organic store formats continue to lose market share to supermarkets and farmer’s markets, and the conventional supermarket remains the main outlet for organic and natural meat at 50 percent.
The positive long-term health effects and nutritional value are the top two reasons cited by shoppers for purchasing organic meat and poultry. As shoppers associate either immediate or long-term health benefits with organic products, they may be more willing to give up goods they perceive as luxury, rather than foods they see as essential to their health.

Source: FMI