Marfrig Alimentos SA, headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has agreed to pay $1.26 billion for Keystone Foods LLC, one of the largest U.S. privately held companies and a manufacturer of chicken nuggets. The Brazilian company, which is Latin America’s second-largest beef producer behind JBS, signed an agreement with Lindsay Goldberg LLC to buy all the shares of the West Conshohocken, Pa.-based company, reports Bloomberg. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, Marfrig said.

Buying Keystone gives Marfrig access to a supplier to international food and restaurant companies such as McDonald’s Corp. and Campbell Soup Co. Marfrig has sought to expand production through acquisitions in the past three years. Earlier this year, the company acquired O’Kane Poultry Ltd. in Ireland and completed a takeover of Seara Alimentos SA from Cargill.

Keystone Foods produces more than 1.6 billion pounds of poultry products and 388 million pounds of beef products a year and distributes them to 30,000 restaurants in 13 countries. The company was the first organization to mass-produce boneless chicken nuggets.

“Adding the resources and the experience of Keystone Foods and its management, we will be expanding businesses of the Marfrig group with the scale and a sustainable supply chain that are necessary to achieve significant growth opportunities in the industry and to serve the needs of our global customers,” said Marcos Antonio dos Santos, Marfrig’s CEO and chairman, in a statement.

Marfrig plans to sell 2.5 billion reais ($1.38 billion) of five-year convertible-local bonds “to finance this acquisition and at the same time maintain the flexibility in its balance sheet,” Marfrig said. Current shareholders will have priority to buy the bonds.

Source: Bloomberg, Business Week

Jimmy Dean, Meat Industry and Country Music Hall of Famer, dies at 81

Jimmy Dean, the renowned country music entertainer and founder of the Jimmy Dean Sausage brand, died on Sunday at the age of 81. In the music industry, he was best known for his 1961 smash hit “Big Bad John,” but he also help discover the likes of Roger Miller, Roy Clark and Patsy Cline through his televised variety show. As a meat industry executive, he founded the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in 1969 and starred in a series of television ads that brought the brand to prominence, even after he sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.

In 2009, Dean became a charter member of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. He was recently elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he died before his official induction in October.

In a March interview with country music blog The 9513, Dean said he entered into the meat industry through his belief that diversification is important for longevity.

“I’ve been looking for a long time to find something that I could do, and I still haven’t found it!” he said.

Sara Lee Corp., which owns the Jimmy Dean Sausage brand, issued a statement on Dean’s passing.

"All of us at the Sara Lee Corporation are deeply saddened by the loss of such an iconic figure,” said Daryl Gormley, vice president breakfast and snacking, Sara Lee North America Retail. “His legacy extends far beyond his development of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand and he will be missed by millions. We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Dean's family and loved ones and we will keep them in our thoughts during this difficult time."

Source: Sara Lee Corp., Yahoo! News,

Bob Evans to raise prices on sausage

Bob Evans Farms Inc. announced it would raise the prices of its sausage products due to a significant increase in raw materials.

"Last month we saw some of the highest sow costs on record, with average prices above $60," says Bob Evans Foods President Mike Townsley. "Bob Evans hasn't experienced a price increase in many years, but with unprecedented costs in these raw materials, we're forced to take pricing action.

"We are undertaking several efficiency and cost saving initiatives to alleviate margin pressures so we don't pass on all our costs to customers," said Townsley. "We understand the consumer is looking for a premium product at an affordable price, and we don't take price increases lightly. We're committed to delivering value for the long-term."

Source: Bob Evans Farms Inc.

Cargill, Meyer Natural Angus enter into agreement

Cargill's U.S. beef business and Meyer Natural Foods have entered into a multi-year agreement which creates a joint "go-to-market" approach. This collaborative effort will focus on expanding sales of Meyer Natural Angus and Laura's Lean Beef to Cargill's retail and foodservice customers that wish to offer consumers natural and organic beef products. Products sold under the joint marketing arrangement will be produced for Meyer by Cargill at its Fort Morgan, Colo., processing facility.

"This arrangement will result in our customers having an expanded selection of high quality beef products which they can offer consumers," said John Keating, president of Cargill's U.S. beef business based in Wichita. "Consumers increasingly seek variety, quality and value in the beef they consume, and our collaboration with Meyer is a win-win for everyone. Meyer Natural Foods product will be more readily available to retailers, foodservice customers and consumers. Cargill will be able to help customers better meet the desire for prime and choice Angus beef from verified origins, raised in certified humane conditions using no antibiotics or hormones under the Meyer Natural Angus brand or lean, heart-healthy beef under the Laura's Lean Beef brand."

"We are delighted to partner with Cargill for this exciting new alliance because they have a long-standing, stellar reputation for producing the optimal product solutions for their many customers throughout the U.S. and around the world," stated Bill Rupp, president of Meyer Natural Foods. "Meyer's natural and organic beef offerings complement Cargill's expansive beef offerings, and we look forward to working closely with them to grow this business."

Terms of the agreement, which became effective in late May, were not disclosed. Cargill's U.S. meat business is headquartered in Wichita, Kan., and Meyer Natural Foods is headquartered in Loveland, Colo.

Source: Cargill

NAMP recommends rewriting validation document

The North American Meat Processors Association is calling on the FSIS to rewrite its entire draft guidance document on in-plant microbial validation.

“The draft guidance document in its current form can be misread and misinterpreted,” said NAMP Executive Director Phil Kimball at yesterday’s FSIS public hearing at USDA headquarters in Washington DC. “The guidance document should be re-written in its entirety with clear language of what is and is not expected for FSIS to consider an establishment’s food safety system as validated . . . the guidance document should be written in clear and concise language.”

“We do not believe the guidance document provides the practical guidance needed by the small and very small meat processing industry . . . If the intent of the document is to help small and very small processors, additional information and examples will be needed to assist those plants that do not have full-time microbiologists or statisticians on staff,” he added.

“We also are concerned that these guidance documents will be viewed as regulations by field personnel, and plants that currently have adequately validated food safety systems will be forced to perform additional and potentially unnecessary in-plant microbial testing in order to satisfy their inspectors.

“The draft guidance document should be changed to address any specific needs or issues that FSIS sees, rather than blanketing the entire industry with recommendations to conduct additional validation activities . . . The agency should consider and share what food safety gains will be realized, particularly in light of the impact on the small and very small meat processing industry.” Kimball said.

The agency is accepting public comments on the guidance document until this Saturday, June 19. After the comment period closes, FSIS plans to issue a second draft of the guidance in July, followed by two additional public meetings and a comment period, before making the guidance final.

When FSIS issued the guidance document in April, it caused great concern for the industry because it seemed to mandate in-plant microbiological testing as a required form of validation at every step in the process. This would represent a huge burden on the meat and poultry industry, without any known benefit to food safety in many instances.

FSIS issued a fact sheet that provides clarification on the draft guidance document because it thought the document was being misinterpreted. The fact sheet addressed many of the industry’s concerns, NAMP reports.

Source: NAMP

AAMP Convention to include hands-on demonstrations

The American Association of Meat Processors will hold its 71st American Convention of Meat Processors & Suppliers’ Exhibition, July 15-17, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. On Friday, July 16, AAMP is utilizing one of its most valuable resources — members of the Association — to provide hands-on meat processing demonstrations. These production demonstrations will be held in the exhibit hall.

Friday morning will consist of demonstrations on Innovative Linked Sausage Products. Independent meat processors are in the unique position to produce specialty sausage products for customers. Only a processor’s imagination limits the development of specialty sausage products. Production demonstrations will cover specialty flavored smoked sausage and a cheesy hash brown sausage. Louis Muench, Louie’s Finer Meats, Inc., Cumberland, Wis., and Bill Dayton, Dayton Meat Products Inc., Malcom, Iowa, will be presenting. Attendees of this demonstration can learn from fellow meat processors that have found success in this market how they produce and market their specialty sausage products.

At the close of the exhibit hall on Friday afternoon, AAMP will be holding a Bacon Production Seminar. Consumers have continued to keep bacon on their shopping lists, and over the years the use of bacon by consumers has expanded tremendously. At the same time, the types of bacon marketed have also expanded. Experienced independent meat processors will discuss their bacon processing, smoking, slicing, and marketing techniques. The production of a wide variety of bacon products will be demonstrated and displayed. Presenters will cover various types of bacon including: injected bacon, dry cured bacon, specialty flavored bacon, cottage bacon, deer bacon, jowl bacon, and beef bacon. The following individuals will be presenting: Doug Hankes, Thrushwood Farms Quality Meats, Galesburg, Ill.; Gary Bardine, Bardine’s Country Smoke House Inc.; Jon Frohling, Frohling Meats Inc., Hecla, S.D.; Bill Dayton, Dayton Meat Products Inc., Malcom, Iowa; Rick Reams, RJ’s Meats & Grocery, Hudson, Wis.; and Jason Jennings, Jennings Premium Meats, New Franklin, Mo.

For further information about these production demonstrations and other educational sessions developed for independent meat processors that will be held at the 71st American Convention of Meat Processors & Suppliers’ Exhibition, please visit AAMP’s website at

Source: AAMP