Two environmental groups are planning to sue Perdue Farms and an Maryland chicken grower for water pollution violations. The Assateague Coastkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance filed notice to seek legal action against a Perdue and a farm near Berlin that raises 80,000 birds under contract to Perdue, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The groups claim that a drainage ditch is feeding into the Pocomoke River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, and that chicken manure is being washed off the farm and into the river. A pair of water-filled trenches lead from the pile to a grassy ditch nearby. The groups took aerial photographs they claim show uncovered piled of manure and wood shavings, and they say water sampled from the ditch downstream of the farm in recent weeks contained high levels of bacteria associated with animal waste, nutrients and arsenic, a toxic metal.

Perdue spokesman Luis Luna said the environmental groups' news release was "full of errors and misstatements." He said the pile in their pictures is not manure because the farm's owners told Perdue they hadn't removed any manure from their chicken houses in the past 20 weeks.


Source: Baltimore Sun



National Beef postpones IPO

National Beef unexpectedly postponed its initial price offering on Thursday, citing weakness in the IPO market. The company had planned to offer 17.25 million shares between $15 and $17 million, raising approximately $276 million.

The company would have received about one-third of the proceeds from the IPO and use the rest to buy back shares. Last week, there were eight planned IPOs from companies, and half of them were postponed or canceled. National Beef did not give word on when or if it would make another attempt to go public.


Source: Reuters



Big Boy Food Group closes plant after Listeria recall

In September, Big Boy Food Group's Warren, Mich., packaging plant recalled 39,514 pounds of ready-to-eat meal kits for possible Listeria contamination. In October, the company suspended operations at the plant and laid off workers because of a mandatory USDA shutdown. Now, the company has closed the plant entirely, leaving 88 employees out of work.

Big Boy stated in a letter to the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth that the company spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars to find the source of the Listeria contamination, Food Safety news reports. The source was determined to be equipment it had acquired from one of its customers, and the company decided that it was not economically feasible to correct the problem and resume operation.

The plant produced Dinolunch and Lunch Buddies brands of meal kits and distributed them to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. It was part of the Big Boy Restaurants International company, which operates 455 Big Boy restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.


Source: Food Safety News



HoneyBaked Ham struggling in holiday season

USA Today has a feature profile on HoneyBaked Ham and the struggles it is facing this holiday season. Like other companies in the pork industry, it is dealing with the H1N1 fears, and it is also facing the challenges of selling high-prices items in a tough economy. The company's spiral-sliced hams can sell for $100 for a whole and $50 for a half. WalMart, on the other hand, is selling a half spiral-sliced ham for less than $16.

"These are unprecedented times," said Craig Kurz, CEO. "We have not seen conditions of the past 12 months at any other time in our company's history." The company has tried to break out being seasonal destination, opening restaurants, offering more items and pushing its catering and corporate gift business. Sales have dropped, and HoneyBakes has laid off workers, reduced stores hours and closed some locations, though Kurz won't give the exact number of closings.

The read more, go to http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2009-12-17-honeybaked17_CV_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip


Source: USA Today



Hormel CEO's compensation falls 17.5% in 2009

The compensation of Hormel Foods Inc. CEO Jeffrey Ettinger fell 17.5 percent in 2009 to $6.3 million, according to an Associated Press calculation of figures filed with regulators. According to the figures, his salary was about 4.8 percent more than FY2008, but his $2.9 million incentive was lower than the $3.5 million he received the previous year. He also received smaller stock and options grants.

For the year, Hormel saw its sales fall 3 percent, but its profit rose as ingredient costs fell and its turkey unit improved. The Associated Press formula is designed to isolate the value the company's board placed on the executive's total compensation package during the last fiscal year. It includes salary, bonus, performance-related bonuses, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which reflect the size of the accounting charge taken for the executive's compensation in the previous fiscal year.


Sources: Associated Press, ABC News