Tyson Foods Inc. and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have reached an agreement that could serve as a model for the way some workers in the poultry industry are paid. Tyson and the government filed a joint motion in federal court to resolve a May 2002 DOL lawsuit, which sought back wages at the company's Blountsville, Alabama, poultry plant and prospective injunctive relief at the company's other poultry processing facilities.

The DOL alleged the company violated federal law by not paying overtime compensation to workers for putting on and taking off certain sanitary and protective clothing before and after their production shifts. Company officials denied any wrongdoing and said the case is an example of an ongoing, nationwide legal debate over what types of activities are compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Tyson's position was almost completely vindicated in November 2009 when a federal jury in Birmingham, Alabama found no evidence of a recordkeeping violation by the company and awarded only $250,000 of the $8 million the DOL requested for workers at the Blountsville plant. The money was meant to compensate 3,000 workers for overtime wages over a ten year period.

The company and DOL subsequently negotiated the resolution, which was filed in court on Thursday. Under the agreement, Tyson will gradually modify timekeeping practices at its poultry plants and certain prepared foods plants over the next two and half years. The company will provide 8 or 12 minutes of extra pay per shift on an interim basis to certain hourly processing line workers. By December 2012, the company will implement a more permanent modification, making arrangements for workers to "clock in" before they put on certain clothing items and "clock out" after the clothing items are taken off.

"We value our employees and like other business across the country, have strived to comply with federal wage and hour laws that are not precise in their description of what activities are compensable," said Ken Kimbro, senior vice president human resources for Tyson Foods. "We've decided to resolve this case and modify our pay practices for certain jobs in order to avoid the continued expense and disruption of further litigation."

The changes in pay practices are expected to affect between 33 and 47 Tyson plant locations across the country and as many as 38,000 employees.

Tyson poultry workers who are represented by a union will not be affected by the interim measures. However, the unions may choose to accept the post-December 2012 system if they "opt-in" during the next 60 days.

As part of the agreement, Tyson will also pay $500,000 to resolve all monetary and injunctive relief issues in the case, including all claims for back pay. The DOL will distribute the payments to an estimated 3,000 current and former Blountsville workers. The payments will range in value from $1 up to about $2,500, before legally-required withholdings.

If approved by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama, the agreement between Tyson and the DOL will take effect on June 8, 2010.

Source: Tyson Foods Inc.

Russia to cut U.S. poultry imports by 25%

Russia says it will cut U.S. poultry imports by 25 percent and that it will get other countries to fulfill the amount.

Russia, a major poultry importer, banned all chlorine-treated poultry imports starting Jan. 1, outlawing the 600,000 tons of poultry allowed from the U.S. under revised quotas. U.S. farmers accounted for 20 percent of the 3.5 million tons of poultry Russia consumed last year. Since the ban, talks on lifting it have been stop-start.

A statement posted on the Industry and Trade Ministry's website late Wednesday says suppliers from any other nation will be allowed to provide the 150,000 tons of poultry this year that the U.S would have supplied, reports the Associated Press.

Source: Associated Press

McDonald's expands snack wrap line with Angus wrap

This summer, McDonald’s will expand upon its wraps line by introducing an Angus Snack Wrap, a smaller version of its Angus burgers. It will go on sale in the New York area on June 14 and will expand nationwide on August 10, with the suggested price of $1.99.

The Angus Snack Wrap will add to its snacking line-up, which has been a key driver of the chain’s recent sales growth, reports Dow Jones.

The item can also help profits, as executives have said that other wraps, with suggested prices of $1.49, on McDonald's menu help entice customers to trade up from Dollar Menu items, which have slim margins. The trade-up could help McDonald's increase the average amount a customer spends, which has taken a hit, especially in the morning due to the new Dollar Breakfast Menu, at a time when McDonald's finds itself with less pricing power.

Marta Fearon, marketing director, says that there is little risk of customers trading down from full- sized sandwiches to a snack wrap. Instead, the wrap lets customers buy a smaller version when they don't want to fill up on the beefy sandwich. "This is the perfect opportunity to have that taste, but gives them [customers] that taste on a value," she said.

Source: Dow Jones, Nasdaq

Kayem launches 'throw out the first pitch' contest

Kayem Foods Inc. is giving New England residents a chance to throw out the first pitch during the Boston Red Sox game against division rival Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday, June 30. Consumers can visitwww.kayem.comto enter Kayem's "Throw Out The First Pitch" contest. One lucky grand prizewinner will be awarded the opportunity to throw out the first pitch

The grand prizewinner will also be given two tickets to the game in addition to a VIP tour of Fenway Park and a night's stay at Boston's Hotel Buckminster. Five second-place prizewinners will receive Kayem grilling gear in preparation for the "Dog Days" of summer as well as Red Sox autographed merchandise such as baseballs, jerseys and hats. Twenty third-place winners will be awarded a Kayem coupon valid for Kayem Franks and sausage, wherever Kayem products are sold. The grand prizewinner will be announced live on WEEI Radio during the June 27 Red Sox game broadcast.

"Nothing epitomizes summer for New Englanders more than enjoying a baseball game at our beloved Fenway Park while snacking on a Fenway Frank," said Bob Kufferman, senior brand manager for Kayem. "We're excited to work with our partners at the Boston Red Sox to extend this experience onto the field and offer the thrill of a first pitch against Tampa Bay."

In 2009, Kayem Foods began manufacturing and distributing the iconic Fenway Franks line of hot dogs, the Official Hot Dog of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park. In 2010, Kayem also became the official Hot Dog and Sausage of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team.

Source: Kayem Foods Inc.

Survey shows more than half of Americans oppose taxes on drinks, fast food

Around the country, cities and states have been considering placing taxes on both soft drinks and fast food as a way to deter obesity. However, while certain groups may be in favor of imposing this "obesity tax," consumers, in general, are not. Over half of Americans (56%) are opposed to this tax going into effect with two in five (42%) being strongly opposed. Three in ten (31%) support this tax being imposed. These are some of the findings of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, survey of 2,140 U.S. adults surveyed online between April 23 and 27, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Location and age make a difference in attitudes on the "obesity tax." Those who live in the East are the most supportive of the tax on soft drinks and fast food with 42% supporting it and just half opposing it, followed by those in the West where 35% support it and 53% oppose the "obesity tax." However, just one-quarter of those who live in the South (25%) support the tax while three in five (61%) oppose it. Midwesterners are not that different from those in the South, as 28% of them support the "obesity tax" and 57% oppose it.

The youngest U.S. adults are those most likely to support the tax on soft drinks and fast food. Two in five of those aged 18-34 (41%) support this tax and 42% oppose it, but there is also uncertainty as 17% are not at all sure. Baby Boomers are most opposed as two-thirds of those aged 45-54 (68%) oppose this tax while only 24% support it.

There are also differing opinions by education and income. Just one-quarter of those with a household income between $35,000 and $49,999 (25%) and under $35,000 (27%) support this tax compared to two in five of those with a household income of $75,000 a year or more (39%). Also, those who are more educated are more likely to support a tax on fast food and soft drinks. One-quarter of those with a high school education or less (24%) support the "obesity tax" compared to 34% of those who have attended some college and 41% of those with at least a college degree.

This Adweek Media/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 23 and 27, 2010 among 2,140 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

Source: Harris Interactive