Record-high meat prices over the last several years pushed more than a few consumers away from grocery store meat counters. That trend is beginning to reverse now, as falling prices bring buyers back and build per capita protein consumption. A new report from Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, "Chickens, Cows, and Pigs ... Oh My!", described 2015 as a "momentous" year for the livestock industry, with the largest increase in U.S. meat consumption seen since the 1970s, at 5% per capita. Going forward, the group projected 1.2% to 1.5% average per annnum growth in U.S. meat consumption. This follows a 9% drop from 2005 through 2014. During that time, beef showed the largest decline at 18%, pork at 10% and chicken at 1.4%.
Cargill says it has stopped using an antibiotic for disease prevention in its turkeys that is also used in human medicine. The company says as of August first, the use of gentamicin was stopped for turkeys harvested for its two largest brands. However, the company says turkeys will still be treated with antibiotics for control and treatment of disease. Cargill says it’s making good on its promise to reduce its overall use of antibiotics in its turkey business and that products covered by this decision will be available starting next year.
The use of food scraps as animal feed has been a common practice worldwide for centuries. The vision of a classic agrarian homestead often features the farmer’s children bringing dinner scraps out to “slop the pigs” and feed the chickens. Yet the practice of feeding food scraps to animals has declined precipitously since the 1980s, when several disease outbreaks were linked to animal feed (specifically, animal products in livestock feed), including foot-and-mouth disease in swine and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly referred to as mad cow disease, in cattle. In an attempt to prevent the spread of such diseases, federal and state laws and regulations that restricted what is often pejoratively referred to as “garbage feeding” were enacted. Some of these policies were overly restrictive, and many of them impose conflicting requirements among neighboring states. Thus, they contributed to a decline in the amount of leftover food being used in animal feed. Indeed, by 2007, just three percent of U.S. hog farms fed food scraps to their livestock.
The president of a Vancouver-based casual dining chain apologized to Canadian beef producers Wednesday over his company’s April announcement that it would begin serving 100-percent Certified Humane beef — a move that meant that it would source from the United States, not Canada. Canadian suppliers would not be able to keep up with Earls Kitchen + Bar’s demand for Certified Humane, antibiotic-, steroid-free beef, the company reasoned. Almost immediately, the announcement was met with intense criticism from both consumers and beef producers, especially in Alberta — the heart of the nation’s beef industry. Within a week of the announcement this spring, the company announced that it would be bringing back Alberta beef to its restaurants (59 of which are located in Canada), and that it would work with local farms “to build a supply of Alberta beef that meets their criteria.”
Dean Food Co. struggled with a glut of milk in the second quarter, obliging the dairy giant to cut prices on the private-label products that make up much of its milk and ice-cream sales. Even though consumers are paying less, they didn’t buy more milk, contributing to what Dean Foods said on Monday was an 8.2% drop in second-quarter revenue to $1.85 billion. Analysts expected profit to fall, but Dean Foods’ earnings announcement still sent shares down as much as 8% in early trading. They regained some ground to close Monday’s session at $18.16, a drop of 3.5%.
Following breakthroughs the Arctic Golden and Granny, Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) is one step closer to having another genetically modified apple cultivated in the U.S. The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) publicly shared OSF’s final version of a petition seeking regulatory approval for non-browning Arctic Fuji apples. APHIS said it had reached a preliminary decision to extend its determination of non-regulated status to the variety.
An aging mansion sits vacant on an estate outside Vancouver, the garage overtaken by a blueberry sorter and a walk-in cooler packed with the fruit. The owner, an investor from mainland China, leases the estate to Fred Liu at such a bargain the farmer grows blueberries in its fields even though the bottom has fallen out of the market. As it turns out, the same wave of Chinese wealth that has fueled real estate booms in cities like New York, Sydney and San Francisco and stoked the art market worldwide also has contributed to an unexpected glut of blueberries. Chinese investors riding a hot property market along the Pacific Coast have socked millions into a belt of protected farmland around Vancouver, long a destination for Asian immigrants, and many have taken advantage of Canadian agricultural tax breaks, agents and farmers said. Because much of the land is restricted to farming, rents have remained stubbornly low. Veteran farmers and entrepreneurial newcomers have snapped up the cheap leases, eager to cash in on the blueberry's ascent as a super food and the promise that a trade deal with China would open the world’s second-largest economy to fresh Canadian exports. But demand has yet to meet bullish projections. Delayed trade negotiations and a surge in global blueberry production have prevented China's rising middle class from eating enough of the British Columbia bumper crop that Chinese investors helped sow.
In late 2014, fledgling entrepreneur Josh Tetrick persuaded investors to plow $90 million into his vegan food startup Hampton Creek Inc. Tetrick had impressed leading Silicon Valley venture capital firms by getting his eggless Just Mayo product into Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, and other top U.S. supermarkets within about three years of starting his company. What Tetrick and his team neglected to mention is that the startup undertook a large-scale operation to buy back its own mayo, which made the product appear more popular than it really was. At least eight months before the funding round closed, Hampton Creek executives quietly launched a campaign to purchase mass quantities of Just Mayo from stores, according to five former workers and more than 250 receipts, expense reports, cash advances and e-mails reviewed by Bloomberg. In addition to buying up hundreds of jars of the product across the U.S., contractors were told to call store managers pretending they were customers and ask about Just Mayo. Strong demand for a product typically prompts retailers to order more and stock it in additional stores.
Nearly two-thirds of domestic sugar production comes from sugar beets, which are grown with genetically modified seeds. A few big food manufacturers, including Hershey’s, are now saying they will use non-GMO cane sugar instead of beet sugar in products. The moves come as firms await the specifics of a new law requiring that they make clear the presence of genetically modified ingredients. Congress recently passed a compromise bill giving firms a host of options as to how they would do so, with options including a barcode that consumers would scan. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law last week. Meanwhile, sugar beet growers don’t understand why some consumers object to how they farm. “We're using less herbicide and a lot less diesel fuel,” said farmer Bill Hejl in Amenia, North Dakota. “That means profit for my farm, but it also cuts down my carbon footprint.” Nearly a decade ago, Hejl started using seeds engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup. He’ll never forget a conversation he had back then. It was around harvest time, and he was chatting with a fellow farmer in the Red River Valley where they live. It's a hot spot for sugar beet production.
The Vermont Attorney General will no longer be enforcing Act 120, Vermont’s first-in-the-nation law requiring the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. “We successfully defended our law for two years, and as a result many companies are now disclosing that their products are produced with genetic engineering,” said Attorney General William H. Sorrell. “We hope they will continue to do so going forward, not because our law requires it, but because it is the right thing to do,” he continued.