Cargill has invested $8 million at its Fresno, Calif., beef production facility for recently completed projects to expand its already extensive food safety efforts, and to renovate and expand some packaging lines.

The larger of the two expenditures, $4.2 million, involves the installation of a hide-on-carcass wash that closely resembles a carwash for cattle in which the hides of animals are scrubbed with spinning bristles and a mild bromine solution that kills bacteria at the beginning of the harvesting process. This process helps better assure removal of dirt and debris while washing the animal's exterior, thereby minimizing the potential for contamination from bacteria that potentially pose a health risk to humans.

Used in concert with numerous food safety measures already in place that are aimed at reducing bacteria such as E. coli O157: H7, the hide-on-carcass wash provides Cargill's Fresno facility with another tool to reduce, and potentially eliminate, these randomly and naturally occurring bacteria.

"People expect safe food, and Cargill's Fresno beef facility prides itself on producing safe, fresh, quality meat products," said John Niemann, vice president and general manager. "It's the meat that families of our 830-plus employees eat, and it's the meat millions of additional consumers eat, so we work hard to deliver the safest products possible to all of our retail and foodservice customers. Food safety is a top priority at Cargill that we take seriously every minute the facility is operating. Our shared goal, together with others in the industry, as well as federal regulatory agencies, is to continuously develop and implement new and better measures that further improve food safety."

Water used for the hide-on-carcass wash process is treated and reclaimed using cutting edge waste water treatment technology. "We are sensitive to regional water needs in California and the Central Valley, and feel it is important to ensure any water we use at our beef processing facility is properly treated, reused for other purposes and meets water quality and environmental standards when it is discharged," explained Niemann. "Founded as an agriculturally based firm 145 years ago in Iowa, our respect for natural resources and the need for conservation is fundamental to Cargill's values and part of the organization's cultural DNA."

A second capital expenditure for approximately $3.8 million involves the complete renovation and expansion of some ground beef packaging lines at the Fresno facility. Finished products include packages of fresh ground beef that are transported by refrigerated trucks from the Cargill facility to distribution centers, then directly to grocery store meat cases. New equipment has been installed in the production area, which enables the packaging lines to operate more effectively and efficiently to meet customer needs.

"Investing in our facilities is good business," states Niemann. "We are responsive to customer needs and realize that we are in business to help them succeed. When our customers are successful and prosper, that translates into a stronger, mutually beneficial, business relationship and profitable growth for both organizations."

The hide-on-carcass wash is a collaborative effort between WMR (Water Management Resources) and Cargill. Using resources from both companies allowed Cargill to install a highly innovative, unique piece of equipment that could become the benchmark for the industry after all final adjustments were made. Installation and testing of the hide-on-carcass wash was completed in late September and packaging line renovation work was recently completed.

Established in 1939, the business located at the Cargill site in Fresno eventually became Beef Packers Inc. Cargill purchased the Fresno beef facility in 2006. The 60-acre facility currently harvests cattle during one shift Monday through Friday, with certain types of meat production and packaging taking place on multiple shifts during the week.

Source: Cargill

Tyson launches

Tyson Foods Inc. has launched, an online destination for deli foodservice professionals. The website is an engaging showcase of proprietary Tyson consumer research and observational data, proven merchandising strategies, innovative new products and business building promotional programs, all designed with deli professionals in mind.

The new Tyson website delivers the resources of one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork directly to the fingertips of deli professionals, plus offers tools and knowledge for deli operations, the company states. With vaults of valuable data, Tyson is pleased to be able to serve as the go-to resource for strategic, business-building solutions. T FuQua, brand manager for the Deli Division of Tyson Foods Inc., commented on the launch of “We are extremely pleased to introduce, a results-oriented resource for deli professionals. Over the years, we’ve found that very little work was being done by our competitors in consumer and shopper research, specifically examining the protein category in the deli channel. features an absolute storehouse of dynamic, applicable data that can assist deli professionals in their operations.” features an in-depth dive into the various profiles of deli shoppers, deli products which are organized by merchandising vehicle, deli merchandising tips, exciting promotions, plus the first-ever, exclusive online community designed for deli professionals. In addition, showcases an exclusive, functional and highly useful calculator, designed to help deli professionals determine a mix of products for their deli to help drive profitability.

Source: Tyson Foods Inc.

Smithfield reports record Q2 results

Smithfield Foods Inc. reported record fiscal 2011 second quarter results. Net income was $143.7 million, or $.86 per diluted share, an improvement of $170.1 million from the second quarter of fiscal 2010, and consolidated operating profit improved $276.3 million versus a year ago.

Sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2011 were $3.0 billion, up 11% compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2010. The year over year increase is primarily attributable to higher average unit selling prices in the pork segment and higher live hog market prices. The company reported net income in the current quarter of $143.7 million compared to a net loss of $26.4 million last year, an improvement of $170.1 million.

"We are pleased to deliver another record quarter to our shareholders. Record earnings were driven by disciplined management in packaged meats and fresh pork accompanied by improved fundamentals in hog production," said C. Larry Pope, president and CEO.

"Supply and demand remained well in balance in the quarter. Reduced protein supplies, coupled with strong protein demand, supported record high pork prices in all trade channels. Export demand for pork continued to be enhanced by a weak U.S. dollar, as the U.S. remained one of the lowest cost global protein producers," he continued.

"Again this quarter, we delivered solid packaged meats earnings that were within the normalized range, despite record high raw material costs. These stable earnings are the result of the Pork Group restructuring plan, which has allowed the company to continue to closely align higher production efficiencies, lower costs and a more coordinated sales and marketing focus," Pope stated.

"On the sales and marketing front, we achieved successful growth of our Smithfield marinated fresh pork and Kretschmar Deli lines, which both posted double digit gains in the quarter," he said.

"The dramatic turnaround in the Hog Production segment continued in the second quarter, as lower hog supplies increased live hog market prices, while raising costs remained in line with last year and the prior quarter. In addition, the Hog Production Group cost saving initiative is well underway and should significantly improve our long-term cost structure," Pope commented.

Fresh pork margins reflected record high pork cutout values, as pork supplies remained tight, and more than offset significant year over year increases in live hog prices. Operating margins were 10%, or $16 per head, despite a 54% increase in live hog market prices and a 12% decrease in volume, as the company processed 13% fewer head than in the prior year. The majority of the volume decline was the result of the closure of the Sioux City, Iowa plant in April 2010.

Packaged meats margins were within the normalized range, as the company's new consolidated sales and marketing platform effectively passed on higher raw material costs. Total packaged meats sales grew 12% percent during the quarter to $1.4 billion and operating margins remained historically strong at 5%, or $.12 per pound, despite the higher raw material costs and a 6% decrease in volume.

Hog Production operating margins dramatically improved in the second quarter to $18 per head. Fewer hogs marketed increased live hog market prices 54% to $56 per hundredweight compared to $36 per hundredweight last year. Pre-interest raising costs were about equal to the prior year at $53 per hundredweight.
Earlier this week, the company completed the sale of its 49% interest in Butterball, LLC and related turkey production assets. The company does not anticipate a gain or loss on the transaction. Net proceeds of approximately $167 million are expected to be used to reduce debt.

Source: Smithfield Foods Inc.

Mislabeled pork products recalled

L&R Fine Fashions Inc., a Garden Grove, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 2,182 pounds of raw pork paste and ready-to-eat fried pork loaf products because they contain an undeclared allergen, wheat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced. Wheat is a known allergen, which is not declared on the label.

The products subject to recall include: 11-ounce packages of “Kim Loan Giò Sông Pork Paste Fish Sauce Added” and 14-ounce chubs of “Kim Loan Chá Chiên Fried Pork Loaf Fish Sauce Added.” Each product bears the establishment number “EST. 40074” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products subject to recall were produced between Jan. 22, 2010 and Dec. 6, 2010. These products were distributed to retail establishments in Southern California.

The problem was discovered by FSIS during a labeling review at the establishment. FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

Supermarket Guru: Consumers will adopt positive approach to food in 2011

Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, works closely with ConAgra Foods and its retailers to analyze and forecast trends in the food industry. Over the past two years, nine of Lempert's 10 annual predictions came true. What's in store for 2011?

"The updated USDA dietary guidelines – in conjunction with technological advancements and the First Lady's 'Let's Move' program – will mark 2011 as the year that empowered Americans to make permanent, positive changes in their diets," according to Lempert. "Finally, people will stop lasering in on single nutrients and begin approaching food holistically. As shoppers circle the aisles seeking foods rich in substance, vitamins and minerals, the brands that communicate clearly and genuinely will be poised for success." 

Lempert has compiled his observations into six trends that Americans can expect to see in 2011:
* Big Appetite for Apps: Value and convenience continue to top shoppers' lists, so in the New Year, consumers will utilize mobile food applications at every point in the grocery store. Instant messages boasting specials will target shoppers' likes and dislikes and offer savings. In the aisles, a scan of an item's bar code will provide detailed information to inform purchasing decisions, and at the checkout, mobile devices will "talk" to the self-checkout and download coupons, frequent shopper bonuses and deduct the total bill from the shopper's checking account. Also, the next generation of restaurant apps will allow visitors to pre-order from the menu.
* Clear Claims: 2010's efforts to slim labels will continue as brands' ingredient statements shrink in length and feature simplified language. In response to shoppers' hunger for food information with substance, the look of the produce department will change dramatically as supermarkets add stickers directly onto pieces of produce to highlight the meaningful vitamins, minerals and fiber contained within.
* D-licious: Driven by research emphasizing vitamin D deficiencies in Americans, look for naturally occurring vitamin D to be touted everywhere, stressing convenient sources of the important nutrient. This will be especially prevalent in the dairy aisle as milk gears up for a big comeback. When it comes to milk, this time around it's all about "white," as flavored, colored and sweet varieties make their way out.
* Shift from Local to Regional: As consumers and retailers begin to understand that it is impossible to have all food produced within 100 miles of where they live, look for regional to emerge based on the tastes and culture of the areas where they're sold.
* Big Easy Seafood: As the Gulf repairs itself, anticipate a spiritual and economic rally to support New Orleans and the region's seafood. Retailers will create major themed promotional events that extend well beyond Mardi Gras to position the Gulf Region as the new epicenter for food.
* 'Free Sample' Makeover: As the impact of the economy, rise of store brands and cost of R&D converge on bottom lines, brands will solicit meaningful customer input in an effort to offer great value while controlling new product failure rates. Companies will sample truly innovative products in stores before they hit the shelves as brands prepare to battle it out for shopper dollars.

Source: ConAgra Foods Inc.