Hormel Foods Corp. reported its performance for the fiscal year 2011 first quarter. The company reported fiscal 2011 first quarter net earnings of $148.8 million, up 34 percent from earnings of $111.2 million a year earlier. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $.55 this year compared to $.41 per share last year. Sales totaled $1.92 billion, which was up 11 percent from fiscal 2010.

“We are pleased to report double-digit increases in both sales and earnings for the quarter,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and CEO. “All five segments generated year-over-year sales growth. Earnings growth was led by excellent performance by our Jennie-O Turkey Store and Refrigerated Foods segments.”

“Our Jennie-O Turkey Store segment had an outstanding quarter, driven by favorable commodity meat margins and improved efficiencies across the entire supply chain and operations. It also experienced improved sales of value-added products. Our Refrigerated Foods segment had a strong quarter, as well, benefiting from continued high pork operating margins. We were pleased by the performance of our international business in the All Other segment, too. Both our Grocery Products and Specialty Foods segments were pressured by higher commodity input costs during the quarter,” remarked Ettinger.

The Refrigerated Foods segment had a strong first quarter, with segment operating profit 37 percent greater than last year, as favorable spreads between hog costs and primal values benefited the segment. Sales grew 13 percent during the quarter, featuring higher sales of Hormel party trays, Hormel pepperoni, Hormel refrigerated entrees, Hormel Always Tender flavored meats, and aided by the inclusion of Hormel Country Crock side dishes.

Jennie-O Turkey Store had an outstanding quarter, with segment operating profit up 122 percent. Better commodity meat prices and improved efficiencies in the supply chain and operations helped drive results. Sales grew 14 percent for this segment with increased commodity meat and value-added sales, featuring increased sales of Jennie-O Turkey Store turkey burgers, turkey bacon and fresh tray pack items.

“Due to our strong results in the first quarter, we are raising our full year guidance range from $1.55 to $1.60 per share to $1.62 to $1.68 per share. We expect to see higher input costs the balance of the year, and our team will continue to tackle the challenge of offsetting these added costs with pricing and efficiency gains. Nevertheless, we believe our strong portfolio of branded products and our balanced model should allow us to build upon the momentum of our excellent start,” concluded Ettinger.

Source: Hormel Foods Corp.

South Korean imports of U.S. beef almost double in 2010 

South Korea imported 125,681 tons of beef from the United States last year, up 97 percent from the 63,817 tons imported in 2009. The amount is 63 percent of the record from 2003, before U.S. beef imports were banned and the country imported 199,409 tons of beef.

Yonhap News Agency reports that the rise in imports is due largely to dwindling concerns over its safety.

"Initially, consumers stayed clear of U.S. beef, and that hurt sales, but because it is priced much more cheaply than local meat, there has been a steady rise in demand, particularly among restaurants and catering services," a farm ministry official said.

However, Korean imports of U.S. pork fell 15 percent in 2010, down to 99,901 tons.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Chik-fil-A surpasses $3.5 billion in annual sales 

Chick-fil-A continued its trend of year-over-year growth the chain has sustained since its inception in 1967. The Atlanta-based chain finished strong in 2010, reporting system-wide sales of $3,582,473,798 an 11.37 percent increase over the chain's 2009 overall sales performance and a same-store sales increase of 5.92 percent.

"We have been very blessed with our sales performance, which is a testament to our family of franchise Operators who remain committed to the business and dedicated to attracting the very best restaurant team members," said Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Dan T. Cathy. "Their dedication to go above and beyond our customers' expectations with warm, friendly service and gracious hospitality is key to sustaining our momentum. It's said, 'build a strong brand and sales will follow,' and we believe the Chick-fil-A brand will continue to thrive as long as we continue to focus on providing exceptional customer service and high-quality products."

Chick-fil-A will add 90 new locations to its restaurant portfolio in 2011, including 71 stand-alone locations, four mall/in-line restaurants and 15 licensed outlets. Chick-fil-A will also expand into entirely new markets for the chain, with plans to further its expansion into the Chicago metro area this spring, enter the San Francisco Bay area in the fall, and open in Boise, Idaho in the fall.

In addition to opening new restaurants, Chick-fil-A will dedicate reinvestment resources to renovate more than 200 of its existing locations in an effort to enhance the guest experience and introduce new efficiencies that will help attract and accommodate greater sales volumes.

Source: Chick-fil-A Inc.

Domino’s reinvents the chicken on its menu 

Having spent time improving its pizzas, Domino’s Pizza has now turned its attention to improving its chicken offerings. The latest permanent menu feature for Domino's consists of two newly revamped chicken products – boneless chicken and wings. The campaign will mark the first time Domino's has run a national promotion around its chicken products since 2002.

The new, tastier chicken wings are available in hot, BBQ and new Sweet Mango Habanero – while the new boneless chicken gives customers more choice on how to customize to their specific tastes. In addition to the new boneless chicken, made with 100 percent whole white breast meat lightly breaded with savory herbs, a selection of dipping sauces will provide multiple options.

"Over 80 percent of our menu consists of new, permanent menu items introduced since 2008, so the desire to continue getting better goes well beyond just our pizza," said Russell Weiner, Domino's Pizza chief marketing officer. "The feedback we heard from consumers was that they wanted more choice and customization with the boneless chicken. And of course, we know how loyal wing-lovers are, so we strived to deliver on providing a better texture and flavor."

Source: Domino’s Pizza

Butterball receives two awards for media and public relations campaigns 

Butterball LLC and its agency of record, Howard, Merrell & Partners, were presented regional and chapter merit awards by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Carolinas/Virginia chapter during the annual Best of NAMA awards banquet which was held on Thurs., Jan. 27 at the Junior League of Raleigh Center for Community Leadership.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by such a highly regarded community of industry professionals for Butterball’s efforts in agricultural communications,” said Keith Shoemaker, CEO, Butterball. “Our goal through these campaigns is to strengthen North Carolina’s agricultural economy and to support the local farming communities by providing valuable, accurate information to the media. Receiving these awards demonstrates that our work is successful in achieving these initiatives.”

Butterball worked with Howard, Merrell & Partners to gain local and national coverage during the 2009 “Fresh Season” leading up to Thanksgiving. The team promoted positive industry messages and celebrated company milestones such as the processing of the millionth bird at Butterball’s two whole bird facilities. Butterball also leveraged its second annual Garner schools art contest to engage students and reinforce the importance of agriculture in education. Communication efforts resulted in coverage reaching an audience of more than 83 million, further disseminating positive messages about agriculture throughout communities across the nation.

The 2009 White House Bird press conference and media relations campaign was implemented after the National Turkey Federation selected a Butterball grower to provide the National Thanksgiving Turkey. A press conference at the Worley Family Farm, Princeton, N.C., showcased where the presidential turkey was raised. Media were invited to tour the turkey house, meet and greet the owners and photograph the winning bird. The effort reached an audience of more than 3 million.

Source: Butterball LLC