Thursday, July 20, 2017

Glitches remain for meat exports to Europe

The Canadian Meat Council is hoping for two changes to European regulations to improve pork and beef access under the new free trade agreement.

For pork, it’s a change to allow food-safety labeling to be applied immediately before export and only on boxes destined for the European market.

That will enable packers to continue as usual with cooler storage and packaging for the Canadian and other export markets.

For beef, council spokesman Ron Davidson said it may take longer to address the more difficult issue of clarifying which antibiotics are/are not acceptable for on-farm use for beef destined for Europe, and to gain European acceptance for that list.

Davidson said this issue will likely remain open when Sept. 21, the free-trade implementation date, arrives, meaning packers will have to wait to start exporting.

FCC posts $614-million profit

Farm Credit Canada achieved a profit of $613.8 million in the most recent 2016-17 fiscal year.

It continued its aggressive, competitive lending policy by increasing its lending by $2.6 billion to $31.2 billion. Of that, $3.2 billion went to young farmers, a category for which the FCC doubled its borrowing limit.

The FCC gave away more than $3 million to support community investments and to celebrate Canada’s Agricuture Day and Canadian agriculture.

It continued support for agriculture education and safety through its support for groups, such as 4-H Canada, Ag in the Classroom, industry associations, STARS air ambulance service and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s Back to Ag program to help injured farmers and agricultural workers return to work.

Profits are also used to support health and wellness initiatives, such as Agriculture Safety Week and FCC Drive Away Hunger in support of Food Banks Canada.

FCC continues to provide free learning opportunities and economic insights through social media and various publications for all involved with the industry.

The FCC paid a dividend of $268.3 million to the federal government, which backs its portfolio.

That's still peanuts given the multi-billion bailout the feds provided the FCC in the 1980s, also a time when it was an aggressive lender.

About 300 borrowers were offered concessions to make it through tough financial circumstances, such as bad weather.

“Our business is built on strong, caring relationships with our customers and our passion for the industry that feeds the world,” said president and chief executive officer Michael Hoffort in a news release.

The FCC annual public meeting will be held in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 16. A full copy of the report can be found at

Owner sells French’s ketchup, mustard

Reckitt Benckiser is selling its food division, including French’s ketchup and mustard, to McCormick & Co. for  about $5.3 billion.

French’s ketchup has been controversial since Loblaws took it off its shelves a little more than a year ago because it deemed the product not Canadian enough. It reversed that decision within 24 hours after consumer outrage.

For its part, Reckitt Benckiser decided to not only source Ontario-grown, Ontario-processed tomatoes for its ketchup, but also built a new bottling plant in Toronto that opened this May.

Yet when it comes to decision-making and profits, both Heinz and French's are controlled by foreigners.

I still prefer French's on the basis that Heinz is now controlled by a bunch of profit-hungry bullies from Brazil and Omaha, Neb. - i.e. the 3G group and Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway.

That pair is also doing a pretty good job of wrecking Tim Horton's.

Maryland-based McCormick, perhaps best known for Billy Bee honey, was apparently competing with Uniliver and Hormel after Reckitt Benckiser announced its plans to sell the food division.

It also makes products such as Durex condoms, Mucinex cold medicine, Woolite detergent, Clearasil acne treatment.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alabama cow dies of BSE

An 11-year-old cow has died of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow’s disease) in Alabama.

The cow died before being sent to slaughter, so none of her meat got into the food chain.

Officials say it is an atypical strain of the disease, not “classical” BSE that devastated the United Kingdom in the 1990s and prompted trade bans when an Alberta cow was diagnosed with the disease in 2003.

American officials say atypical BSE tends to show up from time to time in old cattle.

Bacon prices poised to soar

Bacon prices are poised to soar following a spike to record-high prices for pork bellies, say market analysts in the United States.

Pork belly prices hit another record of $208.47 US per hundredweight on Monday, 51 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Daily Livestock Report.

The Daily Livestock Report’s analysts warn that a six-week lag between wholesale and retail prices could push bacon prices as high as $5.50 US per pound by late August, a 16 percent increase from current prices.

“The risk, however, is that the sharp spike in belly prices may impact how foodservice market participants react for the next six to nine months,” the analysts wrote.

“Maybe they see this for what it is, a short-term spike that does not warrant menu changes or changes to product specs.

“This is critical as pork supplies are expected to hit all time record highs this fall and the market needs all the help it can get,” they say.