Delegates to the 2010 American Veal Association (AVA) annual meeting adopted a statement of ethical principles and code of conduct as a way to articulate veal industry principles and confirm an industry commitment to “veal raised right.”

”Veal producers recognize that consumers, restaurants, retailers and policy makers want to know that they can count on the veal industry to provide humane care and sustainable practices,” said AVA President, Chip Lines-Burgess. “By adopting and embracing these principles, we can help our consumers and customers better understand our commitment to producing safe, nutritious food, protecting the environment, caring for our animals, providing a safe, rewarding work environment and contributing to our communities. These are the values the veal industry believes in.”

The statement of ethical principles and code of conduct were adopted unanimously by veal industry delegates attending the 2010 AVA annual meeting in San Antonio on January 29. The ethical principles and code of conduct were initiated as a project of the veal checkoff funded Joint VIM/VQA Committee and were identified by a cross-section of veal industry participants during a working session in July 2009. The draft language was distributed to the veal industry with a survey for feedback and to determine whether the proposed ethical principles fairly represent the guiding values of today’s veal. The final document was submitted to the AVA delegates in an effort to bring full industry alignment to the principles that guide today’s veal industry.

“The veal industry is well on its way to meeting a voluntary effort to transition all veal farms to group housing by 2017,” said Lines-Burgess. “The adoption of the ethical principles and code of conduct reflects our continued commitment to provide leadership in the areas most important to our customers and consumers. We will continue to work with farmers and others in the industry to ensure they are incorporated into all aspects of veal calf well-being and farm management practices.”

In May 2007, the AVA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for all U.S. veal farms to transition to group housing systems by December 31, 2017. The Board also encouraged more research to aid farmers in the transition. Today, the AVA estimates that approximately one-third of veal calves are raised in group housing.

The ethical standards statement is as follows:

“The U.S. veal industry recognizes that consumers and customers expect our practices and products to reflect our obligation to produce safe food in a responsible manner consistent with the values of our customers and consumers. To foster more confidence in our practices and promote a better understanding of our guiding principles, we affirm the following ethical standards and code of conduct for those involved in the US veal industry:

Food Safety: Producing safe and nutritious food is our first responsibility. Veal Producers are expected to:
* Adopt on farm and management practices consistent with producing safe food
* Adopt animal care practices consistent with producing safe food
* Use animal health products judiciously
* Continually review practices for improvements that protect food safety

Animal Care: We have an ethical obligation to provide appropriate care for our animals at every stage of life. Veal Producers are expected to:
* Safeguard and promote the health and well-being of animals in their care
* Provide appropriate water, food, shelter, handling and transportation at all times
* Respect the special considerations and needs of young calves
* Provide appropriate veterinary care at all stages of life, and when necessary timely euthanasia.

Environment: We have an obligation to protect the air, land and water on which we all depend. Veal Producers are expected to:
* Conserve and manage manure and other nutrients as a resource
* Assure that production and other management practices protect our natural resources including land, air and water.
* Continually review environmental management activities for improvement and sustainability

Employees: We have an ethical responsibility to provide a safe, healthy and rewarding work environment for our employees. Veal Producers are expected to:
* Treat every employee with dignity and respect
* Provide proper education and training in all areas of farm management and animal care
* Promote a safe and healthy work environment
* Promote understanding of and adherence to veal industry ethical principles

Community: We have a duty to promote a quality way of life in the communities where we live and work. Veal Producers are expected to:
* Actively participate in activities that strengthen the community
* Engage neighbors and the community in an open and honest manner
* Resolve to listen to and address reasonable community concerns
* Seek to leave the community and natural resources in a better condition for future generations."

Source: AVA

Pilgrim's Pride reports $33 million quarterly income

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. reported net income of $33.6 million, or $0.44 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.6 billion for the quarter ended December 27, 2009. These results include an income tax benefit of $102.4 million, or $1.33 per diluted share, related to a net operating loss carryforward, and a net charge of $32.7 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, related to the company's reorganization. For the comparable quarter a year earlier, the company reported a net loss of $228.8 million, or $3.09 per diluted share, on total sales of nearly $1.9 billion.

"Our financial results have improved dramatically over the past year as we work to create a market-driven company clearly focused on delivering the highest levels of service, selection and value to our customers as efficiently as possible," said Don Jackson, Pilgrim's Pride president and CEO. "While we are pleased with the progress we have made, we recognize that there is much more work to be done in positioning Pilgrim's Pride for sustained, profitable growth. We will continue to focus on opportunities for improving our product mix, expanding our customer base and operating more efficiently."

Market pricing for chicken products during the quarter was mixed. The average market price for breast meat rose 8 percent and for wings increased by 37 percent versus the same period a year earlier. The average market price for leg quarters, however, declined 10 percent and Georgia Dock dropped about 5 percent. Pilgrim's Pride said its total U.S. feed-ingredient costs in the quarter declined approximately $120 million, or 20 percent, when compared to the same period a year ago.

The company reported an overall operating profit of $7.6 million for the quarter, an improvement of $185.8 million from a year earlier. Operating income was driven by higher gross profit and a $16 million reduction - or nearly 17 percent drop - in Selling, General and Administrative (SG&A) expenses in the company's U.S. operations as the company continued to benefit from expense reduction efforts during its reorganization.

"Today our business strategy is clear," said Dr. Jackson. "We are squarely focused on being a market-driven company that produces to the needs of our customers and the market. We have reduced our production of commodity chicken and are targeting higher-margin products. Our core retail and foodservice demand is driving supply. Our supply chain is focused on optimizing production, while our operations group is driving performance through safety, quality, productivity and cost efficiency."

Source: Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

Sara Lee reports strong Q2 earnings

Sara Lee Corp. reported strong operating income growth for the second quarter of fiscal 2010, driven by significant improvement in operating segment income across the company, particularly in the North American Retail and International Beverage business segments, and lower corporate expenses. Net income also rose sharply, driven by higher income from continuing and discontinued operations, partially due to one-time tax benefits and lower charges for significant items.

Net sales were unchanged in the second quarter as favorable foreign currency exchange rates were offset by slightly lower corporate unit volumes, lower prices and the impact of divestitures. Cash from operations continued to improve, primarily due to higher operating income.

“We’re pleased to report a strong second quarter, which was even better than our first quarter, and was highlighted by significant profit growth,” said Sara Lee Corp. chairman and CEO Brenda C. Barnes. “On an adjusted basis, every segment of our continuing business, along with Household and Body Care, delivered income growth in the quarter. During this period we recalibrated pricing, which helped us deliver improved volume trends. Based on the strong first half performance, we have raised guidance and feel very confident in our full year outlook. We also are making significant investments across our business designed to drive growth this year and beyond. We believe that we will have a strong 2010 and are confident that in 2011 we can deliver meaningful additional profit improvement.”

The North American Retail segment delivered another strong quarter, building on the past two years of business improvements. Operating segment income increased significantly in the first half of fiscal 2010 despite some unit volume softness at the start of the year. Over the course of the second quarter, targeted consumer and customer spending led to attractive price points for high-quality products, which drove unit volume growth (excluding commodity and kosher meat exits).

The retail segment’s key brands continued to show generally positive market share trends and maintained their premium pricing in the quarter. The Jimmy Dean brand increased its share of the frozen protein breakfast category by 2.4 points to 54.3%, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI) share data, FDMx + Walmart, 12 weeks ending December 13, 2009, while the Hillshire Farm brand increased its share in lunchmeats by 1.0 points to 13.3%, per the same IRI market share data.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.