U.S. chicken growers want processors to increase payments and bear more of the cost associated with raising flocks, said two industry groups.

Mike Weaver, president of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, said that the current system places most of the responsibility with growers to pay rising costs for raising flocks, upgrading plants and equipment.

“A lot of growers are going bankrupt,” he told Bloomberg news service, and he is asking the U.S. government to help. He is speaking at a poultry industry workshop coordinated by the Agriculture and Justice departments.

The workshop will focus on competition, compensation and regulatory issues in the poultry industry. The event is the second of five sponsored by the departments as part of a broader effort to analyze competition in the agricultural industry.

“Poultry farmers are struggling,” Jonathan Buttram, president of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, added. “We need some money and contract changes.” Buttram said he would like to see processors pay for upgrades and improved contract terms for growers.

Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, said that the current system works.

“The system is set up to provide companies with a steady supply of the size and weight of birds they want and provide growers with a steady source of income,” he said. “Most growers are satisfied with the way it works now. The growers who do above average are usually paid a better rate.”

Sources: Bloomberg, Business Week

U.S. bans Japanese beef imports

The U.S. banned beef from Japan after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki.

Imports of boneless beef were banned in an import alert issued on April 21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. Japan shipped about $6 million worth of beef to the U.S. in 2009, Dow Jones reported today.

Source: Bloomberg

Survey: Consumers don't think recession is over yet

While the recession forced millions of Americans into the kitchen and to develop an eat-at-home mindset, a new survey released today by ConAgra Foods, shows that despite the ease on economic conditions, Americans are not soon to let go of their new habits. In fact, while many experts say the recession is over, four in five Americans (79 percent) say they do not feel like it is and seven in 10 (71 percent) say they will continue the savings habits they developed during the economic downturn.

The survey shows that the recession continues to impact the way people shop for and prepare food, and even as tough times subside, consumers find their new frugal habits hard to break. In fact, of those who made changes to their food shopping or preparation habits, most of those changes will continue into the coming year.

In the past year, 75 percent of Americans have cooked more meals at home and they say they will continue to do so. Two-thirds (68%) say cooking has brought their family together and three-in-five (61%) say they enjoy cooking more.

Four in five (79%) say they will continue to focus on saving by using coupons, store specials or a budget, and two-thirds (63%) will continue to cut back on premium purchases. Two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed say they have enjoyed becoming more of a bargain hunter.

Half (49%) of those already making cutbacks will freeze more meals, and two-in-five (38%) will continue to stretch meals. About one-third of consumers have sought to save money by stretching out meals with water or canned foods, or by buying more frozen or prepared meals.

"Consumers are saying loud and clear that the effects of the recession are lingering," said Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru, in collaboration with ConAgra Foods. "Over the past 20 months shoppers are heading back to shopping lists and looking for real value. When they are in the store, they are shopping in more locations, especially in the center of the store. Many are turning to canned or prepared products, which can offer both cost savings and convenience for those who are cooking and eating at home more."

Source: ConAgra Foods

Al Fresco launches Chipotle chorizo with mango chicken sausage

al fresco All Natural announced the newest flavor to its line of chicken sausage - Chipotle Chorizo with Mango. Made from skinless chicken meat blended with chipotle peppers & mango in a smoky adobo sauce, al fresco Chipotle Chorizo was created using an authentic Mexican recipe from the region of Tierra Caliente, renowned for chorizo. The smoky hot adobo is complemented by the hint of mango.

"We know that not only is the Hispanic community the largest and fastest growing ethnic segment of the U.S. population," said Sarah Crowley, al fresco senior brand manager, "but also that al fresco consumers are seeking out international flavors and cuisine to spice up the meals they prepare at home. Introducing Chipotle Chorizo now makes perfect sense. Also, it's fully cooked so it's ready in minutes and bottom-line, it's delicious. You can use al fresco Chipotle Chorizo chicken sausage to make a healthier version of traditional Hispanic dishes, like Rice &  Beans as well as in fresh new recipe ideas like grilled Chipotle Chorizo & Shrimp Kabobs or Chipotle Chorizo with Mango Pineapple Salsa, Black Beans and Edamame."

Source: al fresco