The USDA plans to buy as much as $14 million worth of dark meat chicken products to help producers facing a glut in stock and decreasing prices. The stockpile is the result of Russia’s ban on U.S. chicken products, as the country was formerly the top export market for dark meat.

The idea to buy the chicken, which will go to food banks, school lunch programs and other food assistance programs, was hatched during discussions between the USDA and the National Chicken Council about Russia’s ban, Reuters reports. The NCC thanked the USDA in a statement.

“USDA’s purchase is a timely action that will relieve the industry of excess product while providing high-quality food to needy people here at home – a true win-win,” said NCC President George Watts. “We are delighted to be able to provide this product to the government for distribution to food banks and other outlets.”

Under normal circumstances, companies in the U.S. chicken industry sell more than 700,000 metric tons of chicken legs to Russia every year – about 1.5 billion pounds. Russia closed its market to chicken imports from the U.S. on January 1, 2010, ostensibly because Russian officials objected to the fact that American chicken processing plants use chlorinated water in processing chickens.

Negotiations to resolve the issue have dragged on for several months while product has been placed in cold storage due to the relatively limited domestic market for dark meat. The NCC noted that American consumers prefer white meat, and while they also eat plenty of dark meat, they cannot consume all that is produced, considering that the chicken is nearly half dark meat by weight. The product to be sold to the government is the same as normally sold in the domestic market.

Source: Reuters, NCC

Certified Angus Beef adds online ordering for consumers

The Certified Angus Beef brand now offers online ordering, making the brand's premium beef - traditional, Prime, and Natural lines - available for beef connoisseurs and gift givers nationwide.

"For more than 30 years, our premium beef brand has developed a loyal following of consumers demanding its unparalleled taste in the most elite steakhouses and grocery meat cases," explains John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef LLC. "Online service is the next step in delivering superior beef to customers who can share their passion for steak as the perfect celebratory gift."

Steak selections include tender 8-ounce CAB filet mignons, 12-ounce strip steaks and robust 10-ounce ribeyes. All cuts are available in packages of four to six steaks and begin at $74.95. Also available for consumers are Certified Angus Beef brand Prime and Natural strip steaks and filet mignons. Each order is fresh frozen, vacuum sealed and covered with a durable polyethylene film to ensure the highest quality before being shipped in a gift box inside in a reusable insulated cooler.

Source: CAB

Catelli Brothers introduces five new burgers

Catelli Brothers has introduced a lineup of five new burger varieties, in time for grilling season. The five varieties include:
* Veal Burger – All natural fresh American USDA choice veal
* Lamb Burger – All natural fresh American USDA choice lamb
* Meatloaf Burger – A custom blend of fresh ground beef, pork & veal
* Gourmet Angus Beef Burger – 85% lean, 15% fat
* Gourmet Beef Burger – 80% lean, 20% fat

“These new burgers have the same great quality and taste our customers expect from Catelli Brothers,” said Tony Catelli, president and CEO, Catelli Brothers Inc. “The lineup gives consumers the convenience of fresh, pre-formed burgers that go directly from the package to the grill.”

The new burgers will be available fresh in the grocer’s meat case in a MAP burger tray for maximum shelf life.

Source: Catelli Brothers Inc.

Gordon Food Service to build new facility in Michigan

Gordon Food Service (GFS) plans to invest $24.2 million to consolidate several business operations spread throughout Canada into a new 100,000 square-foot facility in Wyoming, Mich. Pending all local and state approvals, the new building would be located within the company’s world headquarters campus and would house 173 new positions the company plans to fill over the next five years.

Gordon Food Service recently announced an organizational restructuring in Canada that was developed to provide a more consistent and integrated experience for its Canadian customers. Pending local and state approvals, the company will centralize these roles in Wyoming. Gordon Food Service and its affiliated companies currently employ 2,393 in Michigan, of which 273 are retail positions.

Gordon Food Service was considering a location in Ontario, Canada as well as Wyoming for the expansion. The Right Place, a non-profit economic development organization, collaborated with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Michigan Department of Transportation and the city of Wyoming to develop an incentive and assistance package that included state Brownfield Redevelopment and Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) tax credits as well as local support. Located on 50th Street, west of Clay Avenue, the new office building would have the capacity to house up to 700 office workers. It would complement, not replace, other buildings on the Wyoming campus.

“We are very encouraged and pleased with the support Gordon Food Service has received on this project from the state of Michigan, The Right Place, and the city of Wyoming. This project is not only an investment in the future of Gordon Food Service; it is an investment in the West Michigan Community,” said Gordon Food Service President, Jim Gordon.

Source: Gordon Food Service

Kroger to expand ready-to-eat category

Kroger is in the midst of a major expansion at its Kroger and Scott’s grocery stores to expand and renovate its stores, as well as upgrading the ready-to-eat food areas. The expansion could cost up to $100 million, reports the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette.

“It is something we consider at all of our store investments and remodels. Shoppers can get a roasted chicken, meatloaf and all of the sides that go with it,” said John Elliott, spokesman.

“People can buy a whole meal, but they’re not paying a restaurant price. We started seeing increased sales at our deli during the economic downturn, but even with us coming out of the recession, the sales haven’t slowed down, and we don’t expect them to.”

He said that the store’s hot meals have made Kroger a lunch and dinner destination as well as a shopping destination.

“For a lot of people, that is the case,” he said. “They can order what they want, continue shopping and then get a real home-cooked meal.”

Source: Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette

Bankrupt Nevada butcher leaves meat behind

A Sparks, Nev., butcher shop that went bankrupt left behind meat in its abandoned trailer, and the smell of rotting meat has led to numerous complained. Power was shut off last week at the trailer, formerly operated by Butcher Boy. An environmental health spokesman for Washoe County says they contacted the previous owner and expect the mess to be cleaned up within the next day or two, reports the Associated Press.

Tony Macaluso says they also notified county prosecutors about the nuisance. In addition to the odor, he says drippings from the trailer have attracted maggots. State wildlife regulators also are investigating reports wild game may have been left behind in violation of state law.

Clint Jolly, who ran the company along with his father, Ken, posted a video apology on his Web site and YouTube.

"Huge apologies from me and my dad, Ken. It's not the way we wanted to end up and are extremely sorry about that," Clint Jolly said. He said that they had not had access to the trailer for five months, because the locks were changed as part of the bankruptcy.

Jolly said they had tried to give customers as much notice as possible to pick up their meat.

"Unfortunately we could no longer do that after the locks were changed and we had no more access," he said. "We did our best to explain to the trustee what we thought needed to be done. Of course, they don't have to listen to us and apparently they didn't."

Source: AP, MSNBC, Business Week