Brazil's JBS, the world's largest beef producer, has a new chief executive officer. The Sao Paulo-based JBS SA says Wesley Batista has been appointed to the post by his brother and predecessor, Joesley, who will remain chairman of the board.

The shuffle was announced by the company Tuesday in a statement, reports AP. It comes after recent reports of JBS' failure to close a deal to buy U.S.-based Sara Lee Corp. Joesley Batista served as CEO for five years, during which time the company made several international acquisitions and grew rapidly. Wesley Batista most recently served as CEO of JBS' unit in the United States.

“Wesley, with his broad experience and his successful track record in the sector, is exceptionally qualified to lead JBS S.A. and its 125,000 employees worldwide to a greater level of success in the coming years,” Joesley Batista said in a statement. “He has profound knowledge of our business and is well equipped to continue the consolidation, integration and synergy capturing between all our global production platforms, all of which I am certain will further enhance value for our shareholders as well as providing a better future for our employees.

“I am proud to be able to announce this step which demonstrates the maturity of our top management and which will allow me to dedicate more of my time to strategic matters and to the longevity of the Company as Chairman of the Board of this Organization which was founded by my father 58 years ago,” he added.

Sources: AP, JBS SA

Smithfield to close Virginia plant

A Smithfield Foods facility in Virginia that produces barbecued ribs, stews and soups will close next month. Vice president for human resources Jeff Gough told The Virginian-Pilot that the closure of the ham and products facility in Smithfield won't affect consumers. Gough says the company's business is growing faster than the facility can handle. He didn't elaborate.

Smithfield plans to close the facility March 26 and lay off 53 workers. Gough says the company and the Laborers' International Union of North America are negotiating a severance package. Laid-off workers would be eligible to apply for other openings within the company.

Source: AP

Petit Jean poultry plant to shut down

Petit Jean Poultry Inc. says 385 workers will be idled when it closes its chicken-deboning plant at Arkadelphia, effective April 1. The facility ended a 20-year deboning contract it had with Tyson Foods since 1991. Tyson began deboning its own birds in January, reports the Associated Press. Plant manager Ronnie Farham said efforts to find another company to contract with weren't successful.

The plant has a total payroll of more than $3.5 million annually.

Farham said employment at the plant in the Clark County Commerce Park at Gum Springs, southeast of Arkadelphia, had dropped over the years. He said that, at one time, the plant employed more than 700 people, but that number was reduced by automation.

Source: AP, THV News

Great Blizzard of 2011 cancels shifts at pork plants

Cargill Inc is reducing production at two Midwest pork plants due to the winter storm that is expected to hamper workers getting to plants and shipments of livestock to plants, Reuters reports. Second production shifts were canceled on Tuesday, as well as first shifts on Wednesday at its plants in Ottumwa, Iowa, and Beardstown, Ill.

"The weather is getting pretty bad in southern Illinois right now. The issue is employee safety. It is going to be a challenge to get to work," said Mike Martin, Cargill spokesman. The company has not made an announcement about second shifts on Wednesday.

Source: Reuters

AMIF Ground Beef Workshop cancelled, rescheduled for April 27-28

The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) Ground Beef Production for Safety Workshop, scheduled for February 2-3, 2011, in Kansas City, Missouri, has been cancelled due to inclement weather.

The workshop has been rescheduled for April 27-28, 2011, at the same venue. Those registered for the February workshop have been automatically registered for the rescheduled workshop. AMI will offer refunds for workshop registration if scheduling conflicts prohibit attendance.

Attendees are reminded to cancel hotel reservations before 6 p.m. of scheduled arrival date to avoid being charged. The hotel reservation phone number is 816-531-3000.

Please direct any questions to AMI Vice President of Convention and Exposition Services Anne Halal at 202-587-4230 or AMI Program Manager of Awards and Education Jessica Mosley at 202-587-4252.

Source: AMI

Restaurant industry expects growth in 2011

Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $604 billion and post positive growth in 2011 after a three-year period of negative real sales growth, according to National Restaurant Association research. The Association's 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast projects an industry sales increase of 3.6 percent over 2010 sales, which equals 1.1 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) terms.

The nation's 960,000 restaurants will continue to be strong contributors to the recovery of the nation's economy, with industry sales representing 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and employees comprising nearly 10 percent of the U.S. workforce. Its total economic impact exceeds $1.7 trillion, as every dollar spent in restaurants generates $2.05 spent in the overall economy. Restaurants are the nation's second-largest private sector employer with 12.8 million employees.

"As the national economy is slowly improving, the restaurant industry is climbing out of its most challenging period in decades to post positive real sales growth in 2011," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. "As in 2010, restaurant industry job growth is expected to outpace the national economy this year, emphasizing the importance of industry to the nation's economy."

"The U.S. restaurant industry is an economic juggernaut whose annual sales are larger than 90 percent of the world's economies – if it were a country, it would rank as the 18th largest economy in the world. While pockets of challenges remain, we are looking forward to a brighter future in 2011," he added.

Continuing the trend from last year, the quickservice restaurant segment is expected to post slightly stronger sales growth than the fullservice segment. Quickservice restaurants are projected to post sales of $167.7 billion this year, a gain of 3.3 percent over 2010. Sales at fullservice restaurants are projected to reach $194.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 3.1 percent in current dollars over 2010.

The eating-and-drinking place segment expected to show the strongest growth in 2011 is social caterers, whose sales are expected to increase by 6.2 percent. Other commercial foodservice segments expected to post solid sales growth in 2011 are hotel restaurants (+5.7 percent), hospitals and nursing homes (+5.5 percent), and primary and secondary schools (+4.8 percent).

Among the 50 states, North Carolina is expected to post the strongest sales growth in 2011 at 4.2 percent (industry sales are projected at $14.1 billion), followed by Idaho ($1.8 billion) and Virginia ($12.8 billion) at 4.0 percent. Forecast to post growth at 3.9 percent: Colorado ($8.6 billion), Florida ($30.1 billion), Maryland ($9.4 billion) and Texas ($36.7 billion).

Of the nine U.S. Census regions, the South Atlantic is expected to post the strongest restaurant sales growth at 3.9 percent, totaling $93.9 billion among its eight states (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia.

The restaurant industry posted modest job growth last year, and that growth is expected to accelerate in 2011. This year, the industry will add jobs at a rate of 2.4 percent, compared with the 1.8 percent expected for the national economy. In the next decade, the industry will add 1.3 million positions.
In the states, the restaurant industries in Texas and Florida will show the strongest job growth over the next 10 years at roughly 17 percent, followed by Arizona and Alabama at roughly 16 percent.

According to the National Restaurant Association's 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast, consumers today spend 49 percent of their food budget in the restaurant community, compared with only 25 percent in 1955. The economic downturn has created a substantial pent-up demand for restaurant services -- more than two out of five consumers say they are not dining out or using takeout as often as they would like -- which positions the restaurant industry for growth in 2011.

Source: NRA