Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride announced that the company will hire as many as 1,400 local workers and invest approximately $30 million to re-open its chicken processing complex in Douglas, in Coffee County, by January 2011.

“The economic imprint of Pilgrim’s Pride is enormous, not only to the state’s poultry industry, but to the growers and suppliers in the region,” said Governor Perdue. “We are proud that Pilgrim’s Pride has recognized the value Georgia brings to poultry companies. There is no doubt the company will benefit from a workforce with deep experience in this industry.”

Company executives joined Governor Perdue and local and state officials in Douglas today to officially kick off the re-opening of the plant, which is expected to employ up to 1,400 workers and process approximately 1.3 million chickens per week when it ramps up to full production by summer 2011. Among those in attendance today were Wesley Batista, president and chief executive officer of JBS USA, majority owner of Pilgrim’s Pride; his brother Jose Batista Jr., a member of the board of directors of Pilgrim’s Pride; and Jose Batista Sobrinho, their father and the founder of JBS S.A., the world’s largest meat company and parent firm of JBS USA.

Pilgrim’s Pride expects to contract with approximately 160 local growers to supply the Douglas plant. Georgia Quick Start will provide customized training for the company’s workers to help it reach full production on schedule.

Pilgrim’s Pride has been moving quickly to prepare for the re-opening. Last week the company appointed John Haas as live production manager in Douglas. He will be responsible for the local pullet, breeder, hatchery, feed mill, grow-out and live haul operations. In addition, the company yesterday set its first flock of pullets, which will grow into breeding stock.

Pilgrim’s Pride’s presence in the region affects more than 3,700 jobs in the state, from the plant’s labor force to workers at hatcheries, feed mills, trucking operations and other ancillary operations.

“This is a proud day for the Douglas community and for Pilgrim’s Pride,” said Don Jackson, Pilgrim’s Pride president and chief executive officer. “The re-opening of our Douglas complex will play an important role in our ability to meet our customers’ growing demand for chicken. We look forward to working with the community, our growers and the state of Georgia to ensure a successful future for Douglas.”

“Poultry has been a strong part of our economy for more than fifty years. We watched it grow, we watched it vanish and now we look forward to watching it grow again – growing jobs for Coffee County, the region and the state of Georgia,” said JoAnne Lewis, president and executive director of the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber and Economic Development Association. “By partnering with Governor Perdue, our state economic development partners and Pilgrim’s Pride, we have created hope for our economy; hope bound by jobs and investment.”

Tom Croteau, director of the Agribusiness, Bioenergy, Food Processing & Logistics Team in the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce division, was the project manager for the state.

Source: Office of the Governor

Mountain States Rosen teams with Lava Lake Lamb

Lava Lake Lamb and Mountain States Rosen (MSR) are teaming up to offer retailers and foodservice purveyors 100% grass-fed, delicious lamb humanely raised on hundreds of thousands of open acres in the Northern Rocky Mountains. This fresh, summer lamb will be available for a limited time only during the natural peak of harvest, late June through September.

The new partnership with Mountain States Rosen will enable Lava Lake Lamb to offer its fresh boutique lamb to a wider audience, given MSR’s existing nationwide distribution network. MSR, the nation’s only vertically integrated, producer-owned lamb and veal company, brings more than 100 combined years of retail, foodservice and product experience to customers. With facilities in the Colorado and New York areas, MSR offers efficient distribution that reduces transport time, animal stress and carbon footprint.

Lava Lake lambs graze on wild grasses and herbs in open pastures and high mountain rangeland. Roaming freely and consuming important antibodies from their mother’s milk, the lambs yield meat that is delicious, free of added hormones and antibiotics, and typically lower in fat than grain-fed lamb, said Lava Lake Lamb. Grass-fed, free-range lamb also contains three to four times the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids found in grain-fed lamb. A 3-ounce serving of nutrient-rich lamb contains more than 25 percent of the daily requirements for zinc, protein, niacin and vitamin B12, with only 8 grams of fat.

Lava Lake Lamb owner Brian Bean anticipates strong appeal and growth of its fresh grass-fed national domestic program. “Most people have never tasted fresh, grass-fed lamb from the Rockies; we think it’s the most delicate, delicious lamb in the world. There’s tremendous excitement among all of us here and the retailers, distributors and foodservice operators who will be offering it fresh from the harvest to a wider base of consumers,” said Bean.

Source: Lava Lake Lamb

U.S., Russia make progress on poultry dispute

Russia and the United States have made progress in negotiations aimed at resuming the import of U.S. poultry, head of Russia's consumer protection watchdog said on Thursday.

"We met with U.S. Ambassador (John) Beyrle last week. We have agreed on four positions in order to meet Russian legislation and let Americans to avoid waiving their own political issues," Gennady Onishchenko told reporters. "It seems we have found this way."

Russia, the top market for U.S. chicken exports, blocked trade on Jan. 19 because of concerns about a routine chlorine wash used by U.S. poultry processors.

Source: Reuters

Hormel names director of environmental responsibility

Hormel Foods Corp. announced that Thomas E. Raymond, manager of environmental engineering is being named director of environmental sustainability.

“Tom’s leadership continues to support our companywide environmental sustainability efforts,” said James R. Schroeder, vice president of engineering. “For the company to achieve its environmental sustainability goals we rely on Tom and his team to formulate the day-to-day and long-term planning and execution of environmental programs.”

Raymond started his career with Hormel Foods in 2005 as a senior staff engineer at the corporate office in Austin, Minn. He was promoted to principal environmental engineer in 2007 and to his current position in 2008.

Source: Hormel Foods Corp.

New Ball Park hot dog campaign focuses on moms

To celebrate the crucial role that mom plays in guiding her kids to achievement, Ball Park has assembled a roster of “all star moms” who will share the secrets of their success in a new advertising campaign for the summer. During the summer months, Ball Park will showcase different superstar moms, while giving moms everywhere a chance to learn how they helped their sons reach the pinnacle.

Among the celebrity moms who will be spotlighted by Ball Park are Robin Paul, mother of NBA All Star point guard Chris Paul, and Gretchen Sheckler, mother of skateboard phenomenon Ryan Sheckler. Each of the celebrity moms will offer tips, advice and personal stories on how they helped their sons fuel their minds and their bodies.

“We created this program so that moms like Robin and Gretchen can share a taste of their success with other moms across the country,” said Tim Roush, vice president lunch and dinner, Sara Lee North America Retail. “As America’s number one beef hot dog brand, we know the importance of feeding a guy’s hunger. By assembling this team of ‘all star moms,’ we’re showcasing all of the different ways in which moms can help feed their sons’ passions – as well as their appetites.”

Ball Park also announced that it has partnered with iVillage to launch a nationwide contest to gather the best tips for satisfying their son’s hunger. From June 7th through July 19th, moms everywhere can visit to enter for a chance to win a weekly prize consisting of a month’s worth of Ball Park Franks as well as a $100 gift card and the grand prize of a full day of pampering including a $500 shopping spree, spa treatment and a year supply of Ball Park Franks.

Added Roush, “There is nothing better during the warm summer months than a day of rest and relaxation and, of course, a grill out with Ball Park Franks. We’re taking a moment to celebrate the countless ‘everyday moms’ who help their sons aspire, achieve and succeed.”

Source: Sara Lee Corp.