Higher costs for commodities like beef and bacon will take a bite out of margins at Wendy's/Arby's Group in the second half of 2010, an executive for the No. 3 U.S. fast-food chain said on Tuesday.

"Beef and bacon are two commodities that have been troublesome to us in this current environment," Steve Hare, Wendy's/Arby's chief financial officer, said at an investor conference, reports Reuters.

The stumbling economy led to lower prices on many ingredients, allowing foodservice operators to offer significant discounts. Arby’s introduced a value menu to compete with McDonald’s and Burger King. However, rising costs of ingredients, such as wheat, beef, bacon, coffee, milk and cocoa are squeezing profits, and many companies are beginning to raise prices.

Source: Reuters

Hormel announces management changes

Hormel Foods Corp. announced the retirement of James W. Cavanaugh, senior vice president of external affairs and general counsel, effective Jan. 30, 2011.

“Jim’s leadership and expertise in managing the company through regulatory and policy-making changes has been significant to the company’s long-term success,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and CEO at Hormel Foods. “He has been at the forefront on managing risk for the company on a daily basis, protecting the company’s intellectual property and overseeing all acquisitions, contracts, litigations and changes to corporate governance. We wish Jim and his wife, Annie, the best in retirement.”

Cavanaugh spent his 29-year career with the company in law. He started at Hormel Foods in 1982 as associate corporate attorney and spent the first 20 years of his career advancing through the law department as a labor specialist and corporate attorney. In 2001, he was named corporate secretary and senior attorney. He was promoted to his current position of general counsel and senior vice president of external affairs in 2005, and served as corporate secretary until 2007.

Lori J. Marco will succeed Cavanaugh as vice president of external affairs and general counsel. She will oversee law, corporate communications and legislative and regulatory affairs. Marco started her career at Hormel Foods in 2004 as a corporate attorney and was named senior attorney in 2007.

The company also announced that Steven G. Binder has been named executive vice president of Refrigerated Foods and Jody H. Feragen has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“Steve and Jody have extensive knowledge of our business and help develop and execute our strategic direction daily,” said Ettinger. “These promotions recognize their hard work and dedication to the company.”

Feragen will continue to oversee all financial areas at Hormel Foods. She joined the company in 2000 as treasurer, assuming the title of vice president and treasurer in 2001. In 2005, she was promoted to vice president of finance and treasurer, and was named senior vice president and chief financial officer in 2007.

Binder will continue to lead the growth and profitability of the Refrigerated Foods division. He joined Hormel Foods in 1979 and progressed through numerous sales and management positions within the foodservice and meat products groups. He assumed his current position as group vice president refrigerated foods in 2007.

Ronald W. Fielding has been named executive vice president of corporate strategy, planning and development. In his new role, Fielding will focus on corporate direction and growth by continuing to oversee corporate strategy and the mergers and acquisitions process. Fielding will also assume responsibility for consumer insights, corporate innovation and new channel development teams.

Thomas R. Day is being promoted to group vice president of foodservice, and will continue reporting to Binder. Day joined Hormel Foods in 1981 and advanced through several positions within the foodservice group. He became senior vice president of foodservice in 2007.

James M. Splinter, vice president of marketing for Hormel Foods consumer products in the Refrigerated Foods division, is being named group vice president of Grocery Products and will assume responsibilities for this division from Fielding. Steven J. Venenga will advance to director of marketing for meat products, and will report to Binder.

Source: Hormel Foods Corp.

Pork producers calling on U.S. to open Cuban market

The National Pork Producers Council is asking Congress to open Cuba as an export market, saying that the U.S. could increase its pork exports by as much as $28 million and lead to the creation of 6,000 U.S. jobs.

Iowa State economist Dermot Hayes estimates that U.S. pork exports would increase by $28.2 million once the travel and financing restrictions on Cuba are lifted, reports the Des Moines Register. Over the past year, the United States shipped about $13.4 million of pork to Cuba.

Sam Carney of Adair, Iowa, president of the National Pork Producers Council, urged the U.S. House of Representatives to take up a bill that would place pork under exemptions from the 1960 embargo against Cuba.

“Because of its proximity to Cuba – just 90 miles separate the countries – the United States is in position to capture a large share of the Cuban pork import market,” said Carney. “For the U.S. pork industry to remain successful and viable, we need new and expanded market access, and H.R. 4645 can provide that access.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to take up the bill on Wednesday.

Source: Des Moines Register

Sara Lee reports progress on sustainability goals

Sara Lee Corp. released the company’s annual sustainability report, titled “Strong, Supportive, Sustainable,” available atwww.saralee.com. The report details the company’s accomplishments toward its ongoing goals in three areas: Wellness and Nutrition, Environment and Social Responsibility.

“This year’s report outlines the progress we have made with our sustainability program in fiscal 2010,” said Audra Karalius, vice president, sustainability, environment and safety. “Sustainability is a global effort at Sara Lee, which is why we feature the work of our Brazilian and Australian operations, as well as the far-reaching efforts of our sustainable coffee and tea teams.”

Highlights from this year’s report include:
* Sara Lee reduced waste sent to landfills over the last five years by 32 percent by maximizing recyclable waste byproducts.
* The company has reduced its water intake by 22 percent since 2005.
* Each year, Sara Lee recognizes the volunteer efforts spearheaded by employees throughout the world with the Promoting People’s Performance (PPP) Awards. In fiscal
2010, the program received 41 applications from 30 different facilities located in 15 countries, representing almost 2,400 participants who accumulated more than 50,000 volunteer hours.
* Through its partnership with Feeding America, in fiscal 2010, Sara Lee donated 2.7 million servings of protein to the non-profit’s food banks.
* In 2010, Sara Lee teamed with The Humane Society and committed to replacing more than one million traditional cage-produced eggs each year with the cage-free variety.
* Sara Lee’s North American Retail and Bakery segments committed to reducing salt by 20 percent in key product categories over the next five years.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.