Shares of top meat producers Tyson Foods Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc. and others tumbled on Friday after the latest crop report showed a drop in corn and soybeans, which could make it more costly to produce meat.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Kenneth Zaslow told the Associated Press that the report from the USDA shows a steep reduction in U.S. corn stocks, while soybeans were reduced less. He said this year's corn ending stocks estimate is the lowest in 14 years, while the soybean ending stocks are the highest in four years.

Zaslow said the impact for meat producers and other companies using these commodities will depend on hedges. Often companies buy up these commodities in advance to lock in prices.

He added that higher corn prices will likely limit expansion of hogs and chickens, which will help bolster pricing. Zaslow maintained his "outperform" ratings on Tyson, based in Springdale, Ark., and Sanderson Farms, based in Laurel, Miss., on the potential for these higher prices to limit product.

Shares of Tyson slumped $1.20, or 7.4 percent, to $15.07 in afternoon trading Friday, while shares of Smithfield Foods tumbled 99 cents, or 6.2 percent, to $15.06. Shares of Pilgrim's Pride fell 30 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $6, and shares of Sanderson Farms fell $1.99, or 4.8 percent, $39.48.

According to Bloomberg reports, the grain report will limit expansion of U.S. herds, meaning that meat prices, already at the highest levels since the 1980s, will continue to rise. Government data showed that the U.S. cattle herd in July was the smallest since 1973 and the number of breeding pigs is near the lowest ever.

U.S. per-capita beef supplies next year will be the lowest since 1952 and pork the smallest since 1976, industry researcher CattleFax said. Hog futures will rise 14 percent by July and cattle may gain 3.6 percent by April, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

“If grain prices go up, then meat prices are going to have to move up,” said Mark Greenwood, a vice president at AgStar Financial Services Inc. in Mankato, Minnesota, who oversees $1 billion in loans and leases to the hog industry. Corn costs “tempered any enthusiasm there was on expansion,” he said.

Source: Associated Press, Business Week, Bloomberg News

AMI elects new officers, board members

The American Meat Institute has elected the six officers who will guide the organization through the next year. The election was held at AMI’s Annual Business Meeting in Bolton Landing, N.Y.

Elected to the chairmanship for 2010-2011 is Dennis Vignieri, president and CEO of Kenosha Beef International Ltd. Vignieri has served with the company since 1978. Prior to his current position, he served as the director of transportation for 14 years. He has been a member of the Kenosha Beef Board of Directors since 1984.

Larry Odom, chairman, president and CEO of Odom’s Tennessee Pride Sausage Inc., will serve as vice chairman for 2010-2011. Odom has worked in various positions for Odom’s Tennessee Pride Sausage Inc., for 36 years, including food service regional manager, quality assurance manager and later as director of quality assurance over a three plant operation. He was plant manager from 1982-1985. Odom became executive vice president in 1985 and president in 1992 and was promoted in 2001 to chairman and CEO.

Elected to serve as treasurer for the 2010-2011 term is Nick Meriggioli. Meriggioli is president of Oscar Mayer, a Kraft Foods Business Unit. From 2001-2006, Meriggioli served as senior vice president of marketing for the Oscar Mayer Business Unit. Prior to that, Meriggioli spent three years (1998-2001) in the Kraft Cheese and Dairy Business Unit in a number of marketing positions including director of strategy and business director for the Philadelphia Cream Cheese business.

Greg Benedict, president and COO, American Foods Group LLC will serve as secretary. Benedict has been in the industry more than 30 years. He began his career in 1980 with Rosen’s Diversified Inc. In 2005, Rosen’s Diversified LLC merged its meat processing companies with American Foods Group Inc. to create American Foods Group LLC. He currently oversees all aspects of the company’s operations.

Jeffrey Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Hormel Foods Corp., becomes immediate past chairman. He began his career with Hormel Foods in 1989 as a corporate attorney and has served in numerous leadership positions at Hormel Foods and Jennie-O Turkey Store. Ettinger was named president and chief operating officer of Hormel Foods in 2004 and was elected chief executive officer in 2005. He was elected chairman of the board for Hormel Foods in November 2006.

J. Patrick Boyle was reelected by the AMI membership to serve a 22nd term as the Institute’s president and CEO.

“There are many great challenges and opportunities facing the meat and poultry industry this year, like continued progress in food safety, proposed changes in industry structure, regaining new export markets, the expansion of corn-based ethanol and immigration reform,” said Boyle. “The proven leadership and diverse, hands-on industry experience of these new AMI officers will be a major asset in our efforts to continue to advance this industry.  I look forward to working with them to achieve our common goals.”

Two new directors were elected to the AMI Board of Directors during the business meeting. The new members will serve a three-year term.
New directors include Karl Deily, president, Cryovac Food Packaging, vice president of Sealed Air Corp., and Ralph Smith, president and CEO, Kayem Foods Inc.

Also joining AMI’s Executive Committee is Mark Moshier, Arrowsight president of global manufacturing and network operation centers, and J. Michael Townsley, president of Bob Evans Foods.

Source: AMI

Butterball introduces fully cooked turkey breast

Butterball has introduced a Fully Cooked Turkey Breast, a new meal option that can be eaten cold or heated and ready in 30 minutes or less.

“With an increasing number of families cooking and eating their meals at home, Butterball sought to offer a sensible heat-and-serve dinner option for weekday meals,” says Kari Lindell, Butterball marketing director. “Our Fully Cooked Turkey Breast offers the quality turkey consumers expect from Butterball, delivering it in a convenient, delicious meal for four to six people.”

To prepare the turkey breast, consumers simply unwrap the easy-to-open “Grip N Tear” packaging, heat for 30 minutes in the oven or less than one minute in the microwave if sliced, and serve. Butterball Fully Cooked Turkey Breast comes in four varieties: Deep Fried, Oven Roasted, Cherry Wood Smoked and Honey Smoked. The packaging shape allows for simple slicing and serving.

Source: Butterball LLC

Saskatchewan plant bought, to resume pork processing

Donald’s Fine Foods and Britco Pork of British Columbia has acquired a shuttered pork processing plant in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and plans to renovate and reopen it. The company is seeking additional capacity, reports Research News International, and the plant will begin operation of around 5,000 head per week.

"It's been quite some time since slaughtering was done in Saskatchewan, so this is very, very encouraging," Sask Pork Chairman Jay McGrath, said.

Saskatchewan hasn't had a hog processing plant since the closure of Mitchells Gourmet Foods plant in 2007. Producers in the meantime have had to ship hogs to neighboring provinces for processing. The plant, to be renamed Thunder Creek Pork, may be reopened by the end of 2010.

Source: Research News International, Urner Barry

Omaha Steaks launches iPhone app

Steak Time , the new Omaha Steaks iPhone application designed to provide the tools for preparing and serving the perfect steak every time, debuted this week in the top 100 within the New and Noteworthy category and the top ten within the Lifestyle category of the iTunes store. The app, which is available at no charge, offers informational "Steak 101" training including "how to" videos, tips for perfect grilling and hundreds of delicious shareable steak recipes by category, complete with grocery list creating capabilities.

One of the innovative features in the app is the Grilling Timer, a function which enables the user to create a personalized steak timer setting for each guest. The timer indicates when to put the steaks on the grill and exactly when to turn them to achieve the specific degree of doneness that each guest prefers. Using the timer eliminates the guesswork in grilling by calculating the logistics needed to ensure that all the steaks are cooked to perfection—from rare to well done—and come off the grill at exactly the same time.

Just for fun, the Steak Time app also offers a conversation card feature that provides a host of interesting conversation starters guaranteed to liven up the dinner discussion. The new app is available through the iTunes store and can be downloaded on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

"For five generations, we have been perfecting the fine art of steak enjoyment," said Senior Vice President and family-owner Todd Simon. "Our new Steak Time iPhone app allows us to share that expertise in a convenient and simple to use format, making it easier than ever to make the very best steaks."

Source: Omaha Steaks

Congressman visits Murray's Chicken

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) toured the Murray's Chicken facility in South Fallsburg with owner Murray Bresky. The congressman talked with the plant's management and workers about his efforts to create jobs for residents of Sullivan County. He emphasized the important role of small business in restoring the economy and reiterated the need for middle class tax relief.

The visit to Murray's Chicken was the congressman's first since he mediated and resolved a recent issue with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) during which the facility was shut down for a brief time.

"Murray's Chicken is one of the most important local employers and businesses in this area, and we are proud that this local business continues to operate in South Fallsburg, offering high quality, naturally-raised poultry,” he said. “In light of that, I spent many hours working to resolve the recent issue between the USDA and Murray's, knowing that every day the plant was closed, local workers and their families were losing money from their paychecks.

"Over 350 people make their living at this facility, and in this difficult economy, we should be promoting small businesses rather than straining them further,” he added. “That's why I remain committed to doing everything I can to protect the jobs we have in our local community while pushing to attract and create new opportunities. In Sullivan County, that starts with middle class tax relief, supporting small businesses, being more innovative about the way we pursue agricultural opportunities, and by delivering strategic federal investments for infrastructure to lay the groundwork for economic development and reduce the burden on local taxpayers.

Source: The Office of Rep. Maurice Hinchey