Tyson Foods Inc. announced its results for the fiscal first quarter. The first-quarter sales were $7.6 billion, up 14.8% compared to last year. Overall operating margin was 6.5%. Chicken operating income was $181 million, or 6.9% of sales; beef operating income was $116 million, or 3.6% of sales; pork operating income was $177 million, or 14.3% of sales, and prepared foods operating income was $28 million, or 3.5% of sales.

“Tyson produced record sales and earnings for the fiscal first quarter of 2011,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO. “The Chicken, Beef and Pork segments produced operating income in or above their normalized ranges. With strong operating cash flows, we reduced our net debt to a 10-year low of $1.4 billion, down $132 million from the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010. Return on invested capital was strong at 26%.

“Our performance is due to on-going, sustainable operational improvements across all four segments,” Smith said. “Our view of 2011 is basically the same as it was a few months ago. Beef and Pork are off to a great start, and their combined results in 2011 should be similar to 2010. Since 2008, our Chicken segment has produced approximately $600 million in performance improvements, with nearly all of that amount coming from operational efficiencies. There are more opportunities to realize, which will contribute to Chicken’s profitability in the remaining quarters of the fiscal year.

“Because of the structural changes we’ve made throughout our businesses, we are competing effectively, even within the volatile markets we’re facing,” Smith said.  “While 2011 will have its challenges, it has the potential to be comparable to 2010.”

Source: Tyson Foods Inc.

Labor Department settles gender discrimination case with beef plant

Federal contractor Green Bay Dressed Beef LLC will pay $1.65 million in back wages, interest and benefits to 970 women who were subjected to systemic discrimination by the company. The settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which found that the women were rejected for general laborer positions at the company's Green Bay plant in 2006 and 2007.

"This is the 21st century in the United States of America. There is no such thing as a 'man's job,'" said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "I am pleased that my department has been able to work out a resolution with Green Bay Dressed Beef, and that the settlement not only compensates the victims of discrimination but also provides jobs for many of these women."

In addition to financial compensation, the beef supplier will extend a total of 248 offers of employment to affected women as positions become available. The company already has hired more than 60 of the women in the original class.

During a scheduled compliance review, OFCCP determined that the company had violated Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of gender in their employment practices. Under the terms of the conciliation agreement worked out between the Labor Department and the contractor, the $1.65 million will be divided among the affected women who return timely notifications. The company also has agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring and corrective measures to ensure that all employment practices fully comply with the law and will immediately correct any discriminatory practices.

Two of Green Bay Dressed Beef's largest clients are the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense – as one of the largest suppliers of beef products for the federal school lunch program and one of the leading providers of beef products to American military personnel worldwide. The company is part of the fresh meats division of the American Foods Group LLC headquartered in Minneapolis.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Idaho to get $2.75 million poultry plant

Poultry Products International plans to build a $2.75 million chicken processing plant near Interstate 84, according to the economic director for the Idaho town of Burley. Doug Manning also said the project includes a hatchery and other facilities at more remote locations that have not yet been named, according to the Associated Press.

The project, which has languished for several years, was restarted in November 2009, and zoning changes and permits were approved in 2010 for the facility. Manning said that the project could begin construction as soon as this year.

Officials estimate the project could create 1,000 construction jobs over two years and as many permanent jobs when construction is finished.

Source: Associated Press

ConAgra adds new Slim Jim varieties

ConAgra Foods has introduced new varieties for some of its most popular snack items, including Slim Jim snack sticks, David seeds and Andy Capp’s. Meeting consumer demand for new, bolder flavors, Slim Jim introduces Zesty Garlic and Jamaican Jerk to its line of meat sticks.

"Consumers are looking for bigger, bolder flavors from their snacks," said David Palfenier, president, Snacks, ConAgra Foods. "All of our new products reflect this trend toward more intense flavors - whether you're reaching for a Slim Jim, some baked Andy Capp's Fries or a handful of DAVID Seeds."

Slim Jim is bringing restaurant-inspired flavors to the category with new sweet and spicy Jamaican Jerk Giant stick and Zesty Garlic Monster stick. Jerk is in the top five fastest-growing sauce flavors, and garlic is the number one flavor on restaurant menus. The new flavors, available now, are more complex and expand meat sticks to consumers with broader flavor preferences, ConAgra says.

Source: ConAgra Foods

Beef Backer Award winners announced

On February 3rd, the Beef Checkoff Program announced winners of the 2010 National Beef Backer Awards at the 2011 Cattle Industry Annual Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Denver, Colo. Each year, three restaurants are recognized for their efforts in menuing and marketing beef. This year's national winners included The Hitching Post I & II (Buellton, Calif.) in the "Independent Restaurant" category, Home Style Dining LLC Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses (Plano, Texas) in the "Chain Restaurant" category and Red The Steakhouse (Miami, Fla.) as the "Innovator of the Year."

"Industry reports show beef dollar sales are up 10%. Thanks to foodservice professionals' creativity and passion for our product, beef has not only gained sales momentum, but also remains at the head of new menu trends. It is important that we recognize and thank establishments that are providing outstanding beef-eating experiences away from home," notes Iowa cattleman Scott McGregor, chairman of the Joint Foodservice Committee. "Today, we are pleased to honor three restaurants for their ongoing commitment to serve beef at its best—every meal, every day."

In addition, the 2010 Retail Beef Backer Award winners were honored at the 2011 Cattle Industry Annual Convention & NCBA Trade Show. The winners were Broulim's Fresh Foods (Independent Retailer), Sentry (Mid-Size Retailer), Harris Teeter Inc. (Large Chain Retailer) and HAC Inc. (Innovator of the Year)

"I'm continuously amazed and impressed with the initiatives these innovative, industry-leading retailers take in their stores to increase beef demand and sales," says Margie Hande, a cow-calf operator in Amidon, ND and chair of the checkoff's Retail Committee. "With more than 50% of all domestic beef volume in the United States sold through the retail channel, we encourage grocers to use tactics that leverage checkoff investments and expand the placement, overall use and visibility of beef for their customers."

Winners were selected for their excellence in a variety of promotional partnerships, beef merchandising and education programs. A third-party judging panel also took into consideration the retailers' support of beef checkoff-funded initiatives such as Beef Alternative Merchandising, Hispanic Marketing, Easy Fresh Cooking, Beef Training Camp, Summer Grilling and Holiday Roast promotions, in addition to store specific campaigns.

Source: The Beef Checkoff Program

Omaha Steaks app gets featured on Super Bowl party planning list

Steak Time, the Omaha Steaks iPhone application designed to provide the tools for preparing and serving the perfect steak every time, is currently featured as one of the top ten apps in the Super Bowl XLV Party Planning Section of the iTunes App Store athttp://ht.ly/3Pzkx. With nearly 100,000 downloads, 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.

The most innovative feature 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.

The Steak Time app made the Rewind 2010 iPhone apps list as one of the best new apps in the Hot Trends category of Fun for Foodies. Steak Time is available through the iTunes store and can be downloaded on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Source: Omaha Steaks