Cargill's U.S. meat business, headquartered in Wichita, plans to invest $14.7 million to create a new facility with research, development, culinary, laboratory, pilot plant and distribution capabilities on Wichita Street, between 1st and 2nd streets, in downtown. Named the "Cargill Innovation Center" by an employee project team, the 75,000-square-foot, two-story complex is being built for Cargill by developer Arco National Construction Co. Inc. and architect GMA Design Group Inc., both headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Construction is scheduled to begin July 2010, with completion projected for June 2011.

"We are delighted that we could work with Mayor Brewer's office to create a mutually beneficial scenario in which we will be able to develop a cutting-edge food innovation facility and keep 65 jobs in Wichita," stated Jody Horner, president of Cargill's U.S. meat business. "Our preference has always been to develop a new innovation center here and, over the past few months, all of the necessary elements properly aligned to allow that to happen. This is good for Wichita, it is good for Cargill and its customers, and it is definitely good for our employees."

The new facility replaces a 210,000-square-foot building at 2901 North Mead, which is in an industrial area and was once a meat processing plant. That property was acquired by Cargill in 1978, when it entered the meat business, and it was recently sold.

"There has been excellent cooperation among all of the interested parties to ensure this project gets done in Wichita," said Scott Eilert, Cargill vice president and director of meat technology development, and leader of this project for the company. "This has been a joint effort between Cargill, the city, Sedgwick county, state of Kansas, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC), Wichita Downtown Development Corporation (WDDC), JP Weigand commercial properties, all of which have risen to the occasion to make certain we were collectively able to maintain our focus and move this project forward. This is an exciting project and those of us who have had the privilege to work on it appreciate what we are about to create in downtown Wichita."

The research and development labs focus on food safety and quality. The culinary kitchens are used for the development of new product offerings as well as the utilization of Cargill products by retail and foodservice customers. The pilot plant allows operational and technical teams to develop new products and to evaluate new meat-producing technologies that could potentially be employed at the company's full-size plants throughout the U.S. and Canada. Also included in the project is a food distribution center for the local area, primarily serving smaller grocery stores.

"At Cargill, we continuously strive to produce the highest-quality, safest meat products our customers can find, and the Cargill Innovation Center will help us ensure we deliver on this commitment," said Horner.


Source: Cargill



Sanderson Farms reports sales, income increase in Q2 results

Sanderson Farms, Inc. reported results for its second fiscal quarter and six months ended April 30, 2010. Net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2010 were $487.1 million compared with $426.8 million for the same period a year ago. For the quarter, net income was $35.1 million, or $1.62 per fully diluted share, compared with net income of $26.2 million, or $1.25 per fully diluted share, for the second quarter of fiscal 2009.

Net sales for the first six months of fiscal 2010 were $907.2 million compared with $815.6 million for the first half of fiscal 2009. Net income for the first half of the year totaled $50.9 million, or $2.39 per fully diluted share, compared with net income of $19.5 million, or $0.93 per fully diluted share, for the first six months of last year.

“We are pleased with the performance of Sanderson Farms during the second fiscal quarter of 2010," said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., chairman and CEB of Sanderson Farms. “Our results reflect the efficient management of our operations by our managers, employees and contract producers. Demand for chicken at retail grocery stores remains strong and the ongoing issues we and our industry face in export markets have not yet significantly disrupted the markets. As has been the case for two years, demand from some food service customers continues to be adversely affected by the economic downturn as demand for protein consumed away from home remains soft. Market prices for boneless breast meat strengthened seasonally and due to limited supply during the quarter. While our net sales price and feed costs did not change significantly during the quarter compared to last year’s second fiscal quarter, we sold 16% more pounds of fresh chicken during the quarter, and the additional volume allowed us to significantly reduce our average non-feed related costs per pound.”

According to Sanderson, market prices for poultry products were mixed during the second quarter of fiscal 2010 compared with the same quarter a year ago. As measured by a simple average of the Georgia dock price for whole chickens, prices decreased approximately 2.0 percent in the Company's second fiscal quarter compared with the same period in 2009. Despite the ongoing Russian embargo of United States chicken, bulk leg quarter market prices were flat with last year's second quarter. Boneless breast meat prices during the quarter were approximately 8.6 percent higher than the prior year period. Jumbo wing prices, while relatively strong, retreated from their all time high in January and were 5.8 percent lower for the quarter compared to last year.

“We are cautiously optimistic as we head into the summer months and what is typically a period of better demand for chicken. Broiler egg sets continue to indicate manageable supplies over the short term, while breeder placements point to reasonable supplies for the next few months. Progress continues on our new Kinston, N.C., complex, and we placed our first breeder flock in April. The plant is on schedule to begin processing chickens in January of next year. As announced in March, we also look forward to the next phase of our growth, which is our plans for the construction of a new big bird deboning facility in Goldsboro, N.C., subject to previously announced contingencies. Together, the two North Carolina plants will add 30 percent more capacity and support our growth through 2014,” added Sanderson.


Source: Sanderson Farms Inc.



USDA reveals gaps in meat industry infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a preliminary study revealing existing gaps in the regional food systems regarding the availability of slaughter facilities to small meat and poultry producers. The study by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is a first attempt to identify areas in the U.S. where small livestock and poultry producers are concentrated but may not have access to a nearby slaughter facility.

"To support consumer demand for locally produced agricultural products, meat producers need to have access to local or regional slaughter facilities, and the study we are releasing today shows that there is often a shortage of facilities needed to bring food to market," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative is working to address various shortcomings in the food supply chain on behalf of our country's producers and consumers. If there is a stronger, closer link between production and consumption, there is often an economic benefit."‬

The data creates a county-by-county view of the continental United States, indicating the concentration of small farms raising cattle, hogs and pigs, and chicken, and also noting the location of nearby state slaughter facilities and small and very small federal slaughter establishments. The USDA defines "small slaughter establishments" as those having between 10 and 499 employees, and "very small slaughter establishments" as having fewer than 10 employees or less than $2.5 million in annual sales. For the purpose of the study, small livestock and poultry producers are those who have annual sales of $250,000 or less.

The presentation "Slaughter Availability to Small Livestock and Poultry Producers – Maps" may be found at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/KYF_maps-050410_FOR_RELEASE.pdf. These findings are released as part of USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative, which emphasizes the need for a fundamental and critical reconnection between producers and consumers.


Source: USDA



AMI releases video on ground beef color

The American Meat Institute (AMI) unveiled a new educational video about the color of ground beef found in today’s meat case. The video, featuring Betsy Booren, Ph.D., director of scientific affairs of the American Meat Institute Foundation, is the sixth installment of AMI’s new “Ask the Meat Scientist” series.

The diverse choices in today’s meat case generate many different questions from consumers. Sometimes ground beef may appear red on the outside, but brown on the inside due to packaging methods. Booren explains in the video the simple explanation for this: oxygen.

“Beef comes from the muscle of an animal. In its natural state — when it is not exposed to any oxygen — it appears purple,” she notes. “But when it is exposed to at least a 20 percent or higher oxygen level of air, the protein responsible for meat color, called ‘myoglobin,’ is forced to bind with the oxygen present and causes the meat color to turn red. Also, when the meat is exposed to no or less than 1 percent of oxygen gas, the meat color will change to a brownish shade.”

Many retail outlets package their ground beef on a styrofoam tray covered with plastic wrap, which is known as “overwrap packaging.” Because some oxygen is able to penetrate the plastic wrap it can make the outside of the meat appear bright red.

Booren notes in the video that some consumers ask if beef’s red color comes from food coloring, but this certainly isn’t the case. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects all ground beef and food coloring is not allowed to be added. Color is simply a natural interaction between beef and the oxygen in our everyday environment,” she says.

To watch the short video, visit AMI’s YouTube channel, The Meat News Network, at http://www.YouTube.com/MeatNewsNetwork.


Source: AMI



USDA announces availability of compliance guide for mobile slaughter units

As part of the USDA 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the availability of the compliance guide for mobile slaughter units. This document presents recommendations and is not a regulatory requirement. FSIS will post this compliance guide on its Significant Guidance Documents Web page at www.fsis.usda.gov/Significant_Guidance/ index.asp.

"USDA is excited to offer this help to small producers and encourages establishments who own or manage mobile slaughter units to use this guidance document to help meet food safety regulatory requirements," said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold R. Mande. "Food must be safe, regardless of where it is produced, and FSIS has worked with mobile unit operators to develop inspection procedures tailored to their needs."

The Mobile Slaughter Use Compliance Guide is intended for owners and managers of a new or existing red meat or poultry mobile slaughter unit who want their establishment to come under Federal inspection and continue operations in accordance with FSIS regulations. Mobile slaughter unit operators are subject to the same regulatory requirements that apply to a fixed ("brick and mortar") facility. The guide also includes the procedures necessary to receive a Federal grant of inspection, unique concerns that may arise with mobile slaughter units, and links to regulatory requirements and resources. Currently, there are five FSIS-inspected red meat mobile slaughter units in the United States.

FSIS is seeking comments for this compliance guide and will consider carefully all comments received. Comments will be accepted from May 25, 2010, through July 26, 2010, and submitted to http://www.regulations.gov (follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments) or by mail, including floppy disks or CD-ROMS, and hand- or courier-delivered items to: Docket Clerk, USDA, FSIS, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474. All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2010-0004. Comments received in response to this guide will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to www.regulations.gov.


Source: USDA