Music legend Neil Young and John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., are teaming up to help fight hunger in Gulf Coast communities affected by the recent oil spill.

Tyson Foods plans to donate 100,000 pounds of chicken products in conjunction with special concerts Young has planned in late September in Mobile, Ala.; Panama City and Pensacola, Fla.; and Biloxi, Miss. The food will be distributed to the Bay Area Food Bank, which serves Central Gulf Coast communities in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

In addition, concert-goers are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will subsequently be given to the food bank. All proceeds from the sale of unique, limited edition Neil Young t-shirts, available only at the concerts, will also be donated to the food bank.

The hunger relief effort is the result of the long-standing friendship between Neil Young and John Tyson.

"Millions of people who live along the Gulf Coast struggle with hunger, and the economic impact of the oil spill has only made matters worse," said Young. "I appreciate the willingness of John Tyson and his company to get involved by helping the regional food bank help feed those in need. John is truly a 'southern man' with a 'heart of gold'. We both encourage concert-goers to spend money locally and support local business."

"Neil and I have known each other for many years and both wanted to do something to help those whose livelihoods have been damaged by the oil spill," said Tyson. "We decided it made sense to combine Neil's widely-known musical talents with our company's ongoing commitment to hunger relief."

Tyson will be delivering four truckloads of chicken, the equivalent of almost 400,000 meals, to the Bay Area Food Bank.

Source: Tyson Foods Inc.

Diamond Ranch Foods enters into Northeast supermarkets

Diamond Ranch Foods Ltd., a meat, poultry and seafood processing and foodservice distribution company, announced that the company has reorganized its product line and has now commenced sales of its seafood and meat products, as well as its imported mineral water brands, Rocchetta and Uliveto, the official mineral water of the Italian National Football Team since 1998, to regional supermarket chains in the Northeast.

Entering this market was a natural evolution for Diamond Ranch Foods as its products provide the company with an excellent balance, along with the offerings to the restaurant and foodservice trades. The move into supermarkets is also a defensive one should the economy go into a further recession. More families will be eating at home causing supermarket business to increase, thus benefiting Diamond Ranch Foods.

“Diamond Ranch Foods is elated with the reception it has received from many of these regional supermarket chains. The quality of our fresh seafood, and our primarily Angus meat products have been embraced by these quality operators,” stated Victor Petrone, chief financial officer of Diamond Ranch Foods, Ltd.

Management estimates fully integrating the supermarket business into the company over the next two quarters.

Source: Diamond Ranch Foods

North American Retail segment leads to strong FY2010 for Sara Lee

Sara Lee Corp. reported that operating income for fiscal 2010 was up significantly, driven by improved operating segment income across all five continuing business segments. In particular, the North American Retail and International Beverage segments showed impressive results, while the North American Foodservice segment increased operating segment income in a challenging environment.

“Sara Lee concluded a very strong year, highlighted by robust earnings per share growth, an increase in cash flow and higher adjusted operating segment income in most of our ongoing business segments,” said Sara Lee Corp. interim CEO Marcel Smits.

The North American Retail segment had a great fiscal 2010, the company announced, building on the past two years of strong business improvements. Operating segment income was up significantly and operating margin rose from 9.2% to 12.3% in fiscal 2010. The segment also increased its share position in ten of its twelve core categories during the year. The retail business is also well on its way with the planned exit from the commodity meats business.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, the North American Retail segment invested heavily behind its core retail brands, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean and Ball Park, the launch of new products and other consumer-centric marketing programs to help set the stage for another year of growth in fiscal 2011. MAP spending increased $21 million or 67% in the fourth quarter, while the segment also increased other consumer spending in the period. Meaningful growth investments were made in the new Kansas City sliced meat plant that will become operational in calendar year 2011 and in the implementation of IT tools from SAP and Oracle that will deliver future benefits in cost efficiency, promotion effectiveness, logistics, planning and manufacturing costs.

Primarily as a result of higher MAP spending, operating segment income decreased $18 million, or 30.1% in the fourth quarter to $43 million. Adjusted operating segment income decreased $23 million, or 37.6%. The impact of the higher marketing investments, as well as higher commodity costs, were partially offset by favorable sales mix, the strong performance of the segment’s core retail business and continuous improvement and Project Accelerate savings.

Unit volumes declined 7.9% in the fourth quarter, excluding the impact of the 53rd week, due to significantly lower volumes for commodity meats which the company is exiting. Excluding the planned commodity meats exits and the 53rd week, unit volumes for the retail business were up 1.8% in the quarter, driven by strong volume growth for Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches and sausages and Hillshire Farm lunchmeats and smoked sausage.

Net sales of $742 million were up 6.7% in the fourth quarter, driven by the impact of the 53rd week, unit volume increases in the core retail business and favorable sales mix into higher-margin products, which were partially offset by the impact of trade spending and commodity meats exits. Adjusted net sales decreased $5 million, or 0.8%.

In the first half of fiscal 2010, the segment benefited from lower input costs, including declining commodity prices. As a result, margins in the first half of fiscal 2010 were meaningfully above the trend line of steady margin improvement the company anticipates for this segment. In the second half of fiscal 2010, commodity prices started to increase and the segment is currently transitioning to a position where it expects to price through the majority of the higher input costs in fiscal 2011. The segment is expected to show improved bottom-line results for fiscal 2011, but the first quarter will be below the year-ago period, reflecting a period during which commodity price increases will not be fully offset with pricing action.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.