Denver Post

JBS SA announced last week that it was in advanced talks to sell $2.3 billion of 8.5 percent local bonds to Brazil's state development bank, known as BNDES, that are convertible into shares in five years. The agreement would allow the company to replace debt BNDES already holds, eliminating the need for the IPO, JBS U.S. said in a Dec. 27 regulatory filing.


Source: Denver Post



Restaurant Performance Index slips in November

"While the RPI's November decline was largely the result of softer same-store sales and traffic performances, it doesn't necessarily mean the industry's recovery is in peril," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. "Like the economy as a whole, the restaurant industry's road to recovery will be one with occasional bumps along the way.

"Overall, the economic fundamentals of the restaurant industry remain positive, which will likely lead to stronger sales results in the months ahead," Riehle added.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures), stood at 98.7 in November – down 1.3 percent from October and the first decline since May. November's decline came on the heels of the Current Situation Index reaching the 100 level in October, the first such occurrence since August 2007.

For the first time in three months, restaurant operators reported a net decline in same-store sales. Forty percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between November 2009 and November 2010, down from 51 percent of operators who reported higher same-store sales in October. In comparison, 44 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in November, up from 33 percent of operators who reported negative sales in October.

Restaurant operators also reported a net decline in customer traffic levels in November. Thirty-six percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between November 2009 and November 2010, down from 44 percent of operators who reported higher traffic in October. In comparison, 45 percent of operators reported a traffic decline in November, up from 34 percent in October.

Along with softer sales and traffic levels, capital spending activity dropped off somewhat. Forty percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, down slightly from 42 percent of operators who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures, and business conditions), stood at 101.2 in November – down 0.2 percent from October and its first decline in four months.

Although the overall Expectations Index declined in November, restaurant operators remain relatively optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead. Forty-two percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared with the same period in the previous year), roughly on par with 43 percent who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, only 14 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, up slightly from 12 percent who reported similarly last month.

Restaurant operators are also generally optimistic about the direction of the overall economy. Thirty-seven percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up slightly from 35 percent last month. In comparison, 15 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, up from 12 percent who reported similarly last month.

Buoyed by a positive outlook for sales and the economy, restaurant operators' plans for capital expenditures remained relatively steady. Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, compared with 48 percent who reported similarly last month.

For the second consecutive month, restaurant operators reported a modestly positive outlook for staffing gains in the months ahead. Sixteen percent of operators expect to increase staffing levels in six months (compared with the same period in the previous year), while 14 percent plan to reduce staffing levels in six months.

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. The full report is available online at www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/index/201011.pdf.


Source: NRA



600 pounds of chicken mushroom pies recalled

The products subject to recall include 6-pound cases of “Crave Pies Chicken Mushroom Pie,” with each case containing 12 individual packages. The individual package indicates that it contains two pies that are 4 ounces each, and bears the establishment number “P-27348” in the USDA mark of inspection.

The products were produced between Sept. 2010 and Dec. 2010, and were shipped to distribution centers for further retail sales in California and New York. The problem was discovered by FSIS during a routine inspection. FSIS has received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.


Source: FSIS



NAMP announces E. coli mini-conference

E. coli

This conference will help beef processors prepare for the critical challenges they face now and in the future. The program is from 12 noon to 6 pm CST, so attendees can arrive at the hotel in the morning of the mini-conference and save the cost of another room night.

Featured speakers include:
* Kerri Harris, Ph.D., President and CEO, International HACCP Alliance;
* Dan Engeljohn Ph.D., Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development, FSIS;
* Justin R. Ransom, Ph.D., AVP, Food Protection and Government Affairs, OSI Group LLC; and
* Mohammad Koohmaraie, Ph.D., CEO, Meat Division, IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group.

The program features:
Validating Controls in Beef Safety Systems. Validation continues to be a hot topic for FSIS and the industry alike. This session will include the latest information on what further processors are expected to do to show they have a validated system. (Harris)
FSIS Perspective on Pathogens of Concern in Beef. This session provides the important perspective of the regulators. It promises to be informative and insightful as to what processors can expect from FSIS. (Engeljohn)
Understanding and Addressing Non-O157 STECs. Includes information on the implication non-O157 STECs can have for the beef industry. FSIS has indicated its intention to consider expanding the adulterant policy to include this group of pathogens. The first recall from a non-O157 STEC occurred in 2010. (Ransom)
The Significance of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) Salmonella. Focuses on the impact these pathogens have on human health and the beef industry, and what further processors need to know to ensure the safety of their products. (Koohmaraie)
Special ‘new technologies’ presentations by representatives of major industry suppliers.

Following the mini-conference will be the two-day Meat Industry Management Conference, featuring USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen on Day One. This is a great opportunity for people to hear directly from the top official for food safety at USDA. Day Two focuses on foodservice trends, marketing, and red meat market outlook issues.

The early registration discount for the conferences ends March 1. For more information and to register, go to www.namp.com.


Source: NAMP