Editorial


How Much Testing is Enough?

Governments around the world are criticized for their apparent slow introduction of testing and achieving inadequate volume to control the COVID-19 outbreak.  The World Health Organization maintains that if less than ten percent of those randomly tested yield SARS-CoV-2 the virus responsible for COVID-19 on sampling, then a country is adequately served. In contrast, epidemiologists experienced in influenza outbreaks maintain that a three percent positive level indicates adequacy of testing.  Currently assays to demonstrate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S., yield positives in the region of 20 percent for selected individuals, either in contact with patients or demonstrating clinical signs. These results are therefore from a biased symptomatic sample and do not reflect the prevalence of the infection in the population.

 


Testing for antibody

 

According to a column authored by Teresa Hanafin in The Boston Globe on Thursday, April 30th, Dr. Antony Fauci considers that three million tests are required each week for the U.S., approximately twice the 1.6 million conducted at present.  Researchers at Harvard University recommend five million tests per week distributed at random among various states, depending on the prevalence rate.  The Harvard Global Health estimate was based on the WHO 10 percent level and indicated that many states are deficient with respect to numbers of tests performed.

 

The Boston Globe, Fast Forward column pointed to the fact that some states, including Florida and Georgia, are relaxing social distancing and home confinement restrictions with a totally inadequate capacity to conduct tests.  It is estimated that Georgia, home state of the CDC requires 10,000 tests daily but has been averaging only 4,000.

 

The CVS Health Corporation announced on April 27th that it would commence a comprehensive testing program at approximately 1,000 sites to conduct 1.5 million tests each month depending on availability of supplies.  Between CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart, seventy testing sites have been established in parking lots for drive-through sampling.  This initiative is supported by the CDC that will soon release new guidelines to identify asymptomatic individuals in high-risk occupations.  It is now recognized that infection with COVID-19 virus can occur with people transmitting the pathogen without necessarily being aware of their condition.

 

As we ease social restrictions adequate testing is required to identify those infected in order to quarantine them and to investigate and evaluate their contacts. This approach applied in South Korea was effective in “flattening the curve” and reducing the incidence rate compared to other nations in Asia and the EU. Fortunately the Roche rapid test has now received provisional FDA approval and will add to testing capacity.

 

The quicker that COVID-19 can be suppressed the safer will be policies designed to restore the economy. Resumption of activities in the food service sector is of specific and immediate concern for the egg-production industry. As restaurants re-open, shell eggs will move back from the retail to the food service sector reversing the trend of the past six weeks. It will only be with re-opening of schools and universities and with more travel that the food service sector will be resuccitated removing the output of 10 to 20 million shell eggs from the retail market with obvious implications for price.

 

Establishing the prevalence of antibody in the populations of specific areas and the incidence rate through antigen detection will be critical to guiding policy until an effective vaccine becomes available. Relaxing COVID-19 restrictions without adequate epidemiologic data will result in resurgence in infection and more misery for our industry. The basic question of “how much testing do we need” is not an absolute number but is determined by incidence rates and will change over time and circumstances. Our epidemiologists can prepare recommendations based on science to guide politicians to devise and implement policies that will be effecively a compromise between public health and our economy. Intrusion of armed protesters into legislative buildings to intimidate lawmakers and governors are not a realistic counterpoint to science and established facts relating to the progress of the pandemic.


 

Egg Industry News


COMMODITY REPORT: MAY 15th 2020.

  • The financial and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are becoming more apparent in the U.S. economy. Corn and soybeans both decreased slightly in price this past week. Corn futures for July delivery were lower by 0.3 percent compared with the quotation on May 8th.  Soybeans were 1.5 percent lower compared with the May 8th quotation for July delivery. Anticipated increases in price have not materialized after signing the Phase-One trade agreement with China or following ratification of the USMCA.
  • Prospects for commodity exports to China are apparently still restrained but less by the logistic restrictions imposed by the last phases of the COVID-19 outbreak. China has reduced their short-term demand for soybeans as a result of continuing losses from African swine fever and disruption of poultry production that is now recovering. April imports of soybeans by China amounted to 6.71 million metric tons (246 million bushels), 14.8 percent lower than during April 2019. Soybeans from Brazil are priced more competitively than from the U.S. due to availability and a favorable currency exchange. The USDA projects that 1.8 billion bushels of soybeans will be imported by China from Brazil in 2020. The U.S. hopes to commence shipping in quantity during late summer.

 

 

Uncertainties still include:-

  • The extent and timing of soybean purchases by China in 2020. The U.S - China Phase-One agreement signed in mid-January incorporating U.S. tariff rescissions, promised purchases of agricultural commodities, concessions on some structural issues by China and strengthened enforcement provisions. A telephone meeting between senior officials of the U.S. and China on Friday May 8th resulted in a reassurance that China would fulfill its obligations with respect to imports of U.S agricultural products. Both sides accepted the need to improve relations damaged by recent injudicious rhetoric relating to the origin of COVID-19.
  • It is anticipated that China will take advantage of low world prices for commodities to import 20 million tons of corn (787 million bushels) and 10 million tons of soybeans (365 million bushels) to add to reserves. The U.S. expects to supply part of this requirement
  • Imports of soybeans from Brazil were delayed by inclement weather and port disruptions during the first quarter of 2020, resulting in soybean stocks falling to a multiple-year low. Imported consignments increased stocks to 4.26 million tons (157 million bushels), up 28.7 percent from March 2020.
  • The market is now more accepting of the reality that future shipments of soybeans to China will not take place according to the quantities promised by the Administration after signing the Phase-One agreement.
  • Total world soybean shipments from the U.S. in 2020 YTD have amounted to 5.26 million tons, (193 million bushels), approximately 9.3 percent of the quantity required to meet the May USDA WASDE projection of 2.055 billion bushels. Through March 2020 soybean shipments attained an average of 16.5 million bushels per week compared to a quantity of 30.3 million bushels (1,102 million metric tons) per week to meet the projected export target.
  • Domestic U.S. soybean and soybean meal demand is currently constrained by cutbacks in the intensive livestock and poultry sectors as impacted by COVID-19.
  • Justifiable uncertainty exists regarding the spread of COVID-19 to other Asian nations, Europe and North America with the potential to create a worldwide depression as economic activity is curtailed

 

Questions still exist:-

 

  • Traders are reviewing projected ending stocks for the 2019 crop and taking into account the initial planting intentions reflecting a February USDA survey of corn and soybean acreage for 2020 before the advent of COVID-19 that distorted production, distribution and consumption of food.
  • The optimistic projections for planting corn and soybeans in 2020 as published on March 31st by the USDA are materializing. Planting is advancing at a rapid pace.
  • A U.S. trade agreement with the U.K. should be concluded in 2020 but trade with the U.S. will be conditioned by commitments to the E.U. by the departing nation. Negotiations commenced this past week between Amb. Robert Lighthizer and his U.K. counterpart Minister Elizabeth Truss. A bilateral agreement will have to overcome disagreements over the use of Huawei communications equipment by the U.K. and chlorination applied to process U.S. chicken.

 

Compared with the May 8th 2020 close, the CME quotation for July corn posted at 15H00 on May 15th was down by 1cent per bushel to 319 cents.  China purchased 567,000 tons of corn on Friday 3rd April valued at $73 million. This quantity represented 1.3 percent of projected U.S. corn exports in 2020. The social restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 will reduce ethanol demand by 1.5 billion gallons or 10 percent of projected 2020 addition to gasoline. Half of U.S. ethanol fermentation capacity is off-line at present.


 

Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, May 20th 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was 322.5 million, down 0.7 million from the previous week.
  • Shell inventory up by 6.9 percent after a 2.2 percent fall last week indicating an imbalance in the supply to demand equilibrium. This is attributed to an increase in the size of the Nation’s producing flock and hence availability of eggs.
  • USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra large and Large were down 13.5 percent to averages of 77.5 and 75.5 cents per dozen respectively. Mediums were up by 1.6 percent to an average of 62.5 cents per dozen. The market was lower and probably bottomed after a week of relative stability following five successive weekly declines in price.
  • The price of breaking stock in the Midwest was up 40.6 percent on average. Checks were up 136.8 percent.

 

OVERVIEW

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on May 18th 2020 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large as delivered to DCs were down 13.5 percent to averages of 77.5 and 75.5 cents per dozen respectively. Mediums were up 1.6 percent to 61.8 cents per dozen reflecting a restoration of balance between availability and demand across all sizes Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 5-Region blended nest-run cost of 58.4 cents per dozen in April 2020, (excluding provisions for packing and transport). The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 

The May 18th 2020 USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 20) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.97 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending May 11th. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.88 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $1.03 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was $0.25 per dozen above the three-year average of $0.72 per dozen and approximately $0.40 cents per dozen above the price during the corresponding week in 2019.


 

Updated USDA Projections for U.S. Egg Production

The USDA Economic Research Service issued an updated forecast of egg production on May 18th 2020 revising the previous April 15th 2020 report. The volume of eggs produced and per capita consumption in 2020 were both increased by 0.6 percent compared to 2019 data. The projected benchmark New York unit price for 2020 was increased 36.0 percent from 2019 due to the effect of COVID-19 panic buying in March.

 

Revised production data for 2016 and 2017 should be compared to 2015, impacted by the Spring outbreak of HPAI in the upper-Midwest. The price elasticity of eggs is denoted by the disparity in the decline in the New York price benchmark relative to volume of production in 2019. The USDA forecast to be revised in June will provide greater clarity on reopening of the economy. May 2020 data is shown in the table below:-

 

Parameter

2015

(actual)

2016

(revised1)

2017

(revised)

2018 2019 2020 % Difference

(revised) (revised) (projection) 2019-2020

 

EGGS

 

 

 

 

Production (m. dozen)

6,938*

7,509

7,811

8,042 8,265 8,312 +0.6

Consumption (eggs per capita)

255.8*

275.3

282.1

287.8 292.9 294.7 +0.6

New York price (c/doz.)

182*

86

101

138 94 130 +38.3

 

Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook –May 18th 2020

Note 1. Production data for 2016 through 2018 were revised from the April 2020 report without explanation by the USDA-ERS.

 

*Impacted by Spring 2015 HPAI outbreaks. Consumption in 2014, 267 eggs per capita

Subscribers to EGG-NEWS are referred to the postings depicting weekly prices, volumes and trends and the monthly review of prices and related industry statistics.


 

Status of 2019 Corn and Soybean Crops

The USDA Crop Progress Report released on May 18th documented corn and soybean planting proceeding ahead of the 5-year average. Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels were lower than the corresponding weeks in 2019 with surface moisture drier than in 2019, expediting planting. CHICK-NEWS and EGG-NEWS will report on the progress of the two major crops as monitored by the USDA through the end of the 2020 harvest in October.

Reference is made to the May 12th WASDE Report #600 accessible under the STATISTICS tab for projected 2020 acreage and yields.

WEEK ENDING

Crop

May 10th

May 17th

5-Year Average

Corn Planted (%)

Corn Emerged (%)

 

 

67

24

 

80

43

 

71

40

Soybeans planted (%)

Soybeans Emerged (%)

 

38

7

53

18

38

12

 

Crop Condition

To be recorded May 25th.

V. Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

Corn 2020

Corn 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soybeans 2019

Soybeans 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parameter

V. Short

Short

Adequate

Surplus

Topsoil moisture: Past Week

4

14

64

18

Past Year

1

7

61

31

Subsoil moisture: Past Week

4

12

69

15

Past Year

1

6

64

29


 

USDA Meals-to-You Program Extended

Meals-to-You intended to deliver one million meals per week to students at schools eligible for free or reduced-price nutrition was impacted by the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions.

 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue announced a major expansion of the program on May 5th.  USDA will partner with the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global and PepsiCo to serve five million meals per week to rural children in twelve states.  In addition to the states to be served, 23 additional states have requested to participate requiring an additional five million meals per week. 

 

Meals-to-You boxes contain ten breakfast and ten lunches to cover meals children would normally have received at school over a two-week period.  The meals meet most food service program standards and include milk, fruit cups, cereal, and other items.  Boxes are delivered to the homes of children via the U.S. Postal Service and other carriers. 

 

Secretary Perdue commented, “This program has been so successful and faced such high demand that we are expanding to five million meals a week”.  Dr. Jeremy Everett, Executive Director of the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty expressed gratitude to be part of an innovative team.  He noted, “We hope that the boxes of food will nourish children and communicate to their families that they are not alone in these tough circumstances.”

 

McLane Global has moved to a 24-hour production schedule to meet demand according to Denton McLane who regards the USDA-funded program as a “life line to thousands of students across rural America that would otherwise go hungry during this challenging period.”

 

It is hoped that hard-cooked eggs could be included in the meals given their nutritional value relative to cost.


 

Home Confinement a Boon to Meal Kit Suppliers

The need for home preparation of meals has provided an unexpected boost to providers of meal kits.  During past four quarters, intense competition both from independent companies and those affiliated to supermarket chains and restaurants have reduced margins with Blue Apron severely impacted. 

 

Monthly meal kits sales increased from approximately $75 million in February 2020 to $100 million in April according to Nielsen. In an article in the May 4th edition of The Wall Street Journal new entrants to meal kits include Shake Shack Inc., Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread and Denny’s.  Home Chef a subsidiary of Kroger Company is expanding capacity and claims to have tripled their new customer count over six weeks. Sunbasket has apparently doubled sales both from regulars and new consumers.  Recipe offerings are now limited to increase production to satisfy demand.

 

Blue Apron has rehired staff to expand sales achieving 376,000 users during the first quarter of 2020. This is only one-third of the peak achieved in 2017.  Increases in market share recorded by the major providers year to date include Hello Fresh at 93 percent, Home Chef, 89 percent, Sunbasket, 27 percent and industry laggard Blue Apron at 3 percent.


 

Val-Co Second-generation Variable Speed V-Fan Now Available

Val-Co has introduced the V-Fan that combines the benefits of variable speed operation with extreme efficiency from frequency control and a PMAC motor. At maximum speed the V-Fan delivers 35,000 CFM and provides 62.7 CFM/Watt2 at low speeds.  V-Fans are direct-driven with a variable frequency drive mounted directly on the fan and preset at the factory.

 

 For further information and availability access the Val-Co website by clicking on to the company logo on the right side of the Welcome page.


 

Proctor and Gamble Develops Bio-based Acrylic Acid Technology

Proctor and Gamble has developed and patented technology to convert lactic acid into acrylic acid used in absorbent hygiene products, paints and a wide range of household consumer items.  The technology has been licensed to Cargill to commercialize production from fermentation of corn.  This innovation in small measure may support farmers who face declining revenue from oversupply occasioned by decreased demand for ethanol.


 

Hamlet Protein Presents Webinars to Maintain Contact with Clients

In a May 7th press release, Hamlet Protein, based in Denmark, with a production center in Finley, OH., noted the success of a series of webinars directed to the feed and intensive livestock industry.  Recently a program in China attracted 20,000 attendees.  Topics included feeding piglets and a ban on antibiotic growth promoters to be implemented in 2010.  Prior to the program, the technical director for Hamlet Protein in China, Dr. Eugene Li conducted an on-line poll to determine the range and identity of topics to be reviewed.

 

Hamlet Protein recently organized a webinar for North America with guest speakers reporting on availability of feed ingredients and the current market situation and outlook.

 

In the EU, Hamlet Protein presented webinars included replacement of sow milk, anti-nutritional factors and the changing circumstances in the market.

 


CEO of  Hamlet Protein, Erik Visser

CEO of Hamlet Protein, Erik Visser commented, “We want to keep close to our customers, also during these unprecedented times.  On-line events whether for group sessions or smaller meetings have proven very effective in continuing our technical support to customers around the world.”


 

AEB Reports on Retail Egg Supply

Following panic buying in early March, the American Egg Board initiated weekly surveys to determine purchase patterns among consumers and the availability of eggs. Based on interviews of 1,000 consumers through the period May 1st- 4th, it was determined that egg supplies have increased.  Of those interviewed, 36 percent reported that shelves were fully stocked with eggs at their local stores representing a 38 percent increase over the survey conducted in mid-April.  Approximately one-half of respondents stated that there was no limit on the number of eggs they could purchase during a single visit to a supermarket.  This is down from 62 percent in mid-April.

 

In reviewing consumer purchasing trends, among heavy egg buyers classified by buying more than three dozen per month, 33 percent are purchasing more than usual, 57 percent purchased the same as usual and only 10 percent less than usual.  Among all egg consumers, 21 percent indicated that they are now purchasing more than usual, 66 percent the same as usual and 13 percent less than usual.

 

The implications from the consumer responses, irrespective of category of heavy egg buyers or of general consumers, it is likely that more egg will be consumed after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.  Despite the fact that restaurants are slowly opening in most states, a combination of habituation to home-meal preparation over the past six weeks of restrictions and the high unemployment rate will favor home cooking. Accordingly egg consumption will in all probability rise.


 

USAPEEC Instrumental in Facilitating Egg Exports to Mexico

Authorities in Mexico have altered requirements for eggs shipped from the U.S.  The major change relates to traceability and documenting the origin of eggs and egg products shipped to Mexico.

 

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service will amend exports certificates in conformity to the required changes.

USAPEEC has been instrumental in notifying the industry of changes and exporters were informed of new regulations in the May 15th edition of MondayLine.


 

Slow Return of Conventional Restaurants Predicted After COVID-19

Packaged Facts notes that full pre-COVID-19 recovery by conventional and casual dining restaurants might not occur before three years. Only slow growth in these sectors is anticipated with numerous permanent closings.  The May 15th article projects that twenty percent of full-service restaurants may close permanently as a result of the prolonged COVID-19 restrictions and subsequent economic recession. 

 

Fast-food chains will be affected to a lesser extent than full-service restaurants due to their reliance on drive-through and takeaway.  On-premise dining will be restricted by social distancing and a reluctance to patronize restaurants even if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.  Only with introduction of an effective vaccine of proven efficacy can there be a restoration of restaurant traffic.


 

AEB And EIC Will Have to Intensify Promotion of "Real Eggs"

According to press reports, Just, the company founded and managed by Josh Tetrick has entered into a strategic alliance with the Emsland Group in Germany.  This company manufactures pea-derived proteins for the food industry.  Emsland is a farmer-owned cooperative established in the 1930s.

 

Despite the rise in awareness of sustainability and welfare issues in Germany, Emsland and similar companies have not appreciably affected the increase in the number of hens providing eggs to the German population over the past few decades.  Germany is a major importer of eggs from other EU nations including Holland and Poland.

 

Univar Solutions Inc., a U.S.-based multinational, has introduced pea-based ingredients intended to displace eggs in bakery applications.  This company promotes the emulsifying properties of vegetable-based egg substitutes for sauces and mayonnaise. 

 

Following the large increase in the price of egg products due to the 2015 HPAI epornitic, the AEB established a campaign to promote Real Eggs which has been successful and has in large measure restored the volume of egg products in the commercial baking and confectionary industries.  It is obvious that check-off funds directed towards new product development using eggs and also promoting the inherent functional properties of eggs should be intensified to offset competition from alternatives.


 

Role of Pets in COVID-19 Transmission

Anecdotal and verified reports of a few cases of COVID-19 in cats and dogs have surfaced since the advent of the pandemic.  Given the numbers of infected people and the proportion of pets in households, it does not appear that domestic pets either susceptible or are a factor in introducing infection into a home.  Initial studies suggest that pets acquire infection from humans.

The University of Washington Center for Pandemic Preparedness has initiated a structured evaluation of the epidemiologic relationship between owners and their pets.  The study will enroll families with one or more member having been diagnosed with COVID-19 and will test pets including dogs, cats, ferrets and hamsters for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

 

Clearly if households are following strict quarantine at home, pets should not be allowed to roam. 

 

Previous studies conducted by an institute in Germany confirmed that chickens and hogs are refractory to SARS-CoV-2 and are not involved in the epidemiology of the infection.


 

Ahold-Delhaize Group Posts Q1 Results

Multinational, Ahold-Delhaize with an extensive supermarket presence in the EU and the U.S. published results for the first quarter of 2020 on May 7th.  Net sales were $16.86 billion, operating income attained $89.3 million and net income $600 million with an EPS of $0.55.

 

The U.S. contributed 62 percent of sales amounting to $10.48 billion according to Frans Muller, president and CEO who commented that results were significantly impacted by COVID-19.  In the U.S., the company recorded a 42 percent increase in online sales amounting to $300 million. 

 

The company operates 707 click-and-collect points with a target of 1,000 in 2020.  The timeline for remodeling U.S. stores has been extended due to COVID-19.  Excluding fuel, U.S. banners recorded a same-store sales growth of 13.8 percent. Aaahold-Delhaize banners in the U.S. include Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Hannaford, Giant and delivery service Peapod.


 

Recommended Reading: A Natural Mistake by Dr. James T. MacGregor

There is a wide misapprehension that the descriptors natural, organic and botanical in advertising parlance signify safe, healthy and nutritious. Dr. James MacGregor incisively dissects these presumptions in A Natural Mistake indicating that in many situations natural and organic may be deleterious to health.

 

Dr. MacGregor earned a PhD in toxicology and biochemistry from the University of Rochester, NY. and he is a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology.  His credentials include directing the Safety Evaluation Program at the U.S. FDA, directing programs at the Stanford Research Institute and the USDA.  He has consulted extensively for major international companies, non-profits and governmental organizations worldwide on aspects of food and pharmacologic safety.

 

The text cites specific examples of toxicity from natural products. These include Balkan nephrosis caused by consumption of supplements or food containing Aristolochia, the Fen-Phen debacle, acute liver toxicity from herbal supplements, fava bean toxicity and interactions between pharmaceuticals and St. John's Wort and grapefruit.

 

Based on his extensive experience in regularity agencies he notes deficiencies in oversight of herbal supplements and nutritional additives and the unjustified protection afforded manufacturers under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.  This legislation essentially presumes all dietary supplements are inherently safe.  Inexplicably these compounds are not subject to the extensive and rigorous tests for both safety and efficacy required of drugs.  For the FDA to take action it is necessary for the agency to demonstrate that nutritional supplements are in fact toxic or deleterious.  A second enigma is that advertising of supplements is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and not by the FDA. 

 

A Natural Mistake is an easy read and should be considered by both marketing and R&D managers of companies either actively promoting or considering nutraceuticals or additives.  Guidance on regulation of these compounds and how they have been abused in the past should serve as important lessons in a litigious environment.

 

The 213-page text includes a section with approximately 150 references documenting the opinions and recommendations provided.

 

One take-home message from the book is that a healthful lifestyle with moderation in food intake and exercise contributes to longevity and freedom from metabolic conditions. A second reality is that pesticide residues in U.S. foods are not a significant health concern despite publicity generated by promoters of organic foods, macrobiotic diets and other fad regimens.


 

Rep. Ted Yoho Rejects Masks

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) has deviated from his colleagues by not wearing a mask in the hallways of the Capitol. When asked why not, he replied "there is just no need". He justifies his decision on the basis of herd immunity and he believes that the only way the population will be protected is by exposure. He is also of the persuasion that COVID-19 is no more serious than influenza. 


In eschewing masks in public, Rep. Yoho is at variance with recommendations from the Surgeon General and the CDC. His position is even more difficult to understand given that he graduated from Florida State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983.  


Dr. Yoho has consistently downplayed the importance of COVID-19 stating that the virus has been blown out of proportion and he compares local, state and national response to “cinematic fiction”.  With 1.4 million cases and 90,000 fatalities and rising, that’s a heck of a movie.  
 


 

MPF to Present Virtual Trade Show & Convention in August

As anticipated the Midwest Poultry Federation (MPF) has announced that the 2020 in-person convention, re-scheduled for July has been cancelled. As an alternative the MPF will offer a virtual trade show and conference on-line on August 12th and 13th 2020.

 

The leadership team met several times last week to weigh options and the full board unanimously endorsed the decision made to protect exhibitors, staff and attendees.

 

President of the MFP, Greg Nelson stated “given the current COVID-19 situation and the unknowns surrounding large gatherings, we cancelled the in-person convention” He added  “the 2020 Virtual MPF Convention gives us a full trade show and convention component online – the next best thing to being together in person.” 

 

 

The virtual platform will showcase the arranged MPF education content. Connections between exhibitors and attendees will be achieved through a robust, 3-D graphical experience in which attendees will visit company booths in the Exhibit Hall, benefit from education sessions and interact with speakers.

 

Attendees who were pre-registered to attend the March Convention will be automatically registered to attend the virtual MPF event at no additional cost. Ticket purchases for the MPF Unhatched Concert event and A Slice of Learning lunch will be refunded. Details for on-line registration will be forthcoming at www.midwestpoultry.com.
Information on participation in the virtual trade show is available from the Exhibits Manager, Teresa Sorenson at tsorenson@midwestpoultry.com

 

Current sponsors and their brands will be incorporated directly onto the virtual platform at no additional fee. If your company is not a current sponsor and would like to participate, contact Lara Durben at ldurben@midwestpoultry.com


Lara Durbin-the ultimate MPF Worker Bee

 

 


 

Environmental Spraying of Disinfectants Useless Against COVID-19

According to the World Health Organization, extensive environmental spraying of disinfectants especially on roads, and fogging large public areas does not effectively destroy SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.  Commonly used disinfectants including QATs, formaldehyde and chlorine-based compounds are ineffective when inappropriately applied.

 

Thorough disinfection ("deep cleaning") involving removal of organic matter followed by rinsing and application of a disinfectant is however effective especially on work surfaces or points where human contact occurs.


 

NIH Partners with Industry to Combat COVID-19

Dr. Frances S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced an initiative partnering his institute with industry leaders to accelerate progress in combating COVID-19 and future pandemics.  The Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines Initiative (ACTIV) has been established by the NIH and the Foundation for the NIH.  A total of eighteen biopharmaceutical companies, federal agencies and the EU Medicine Agency are involved.

 

The initiative was outlined in a viewpoint article* published in the journal of The American Medical Association.

 

ACTIV comprises four working groups co-shared by a scientist from NIH and a colleague from industry.

 

The working groups will comprise:-

  • Therapeutics Clinical Working Group to determine the benefits of drug therapy for COVID-19
  • Preclinical Working Group to evaluate testing of candidate therapy and vaccines
  • Clinical Trial Working Group to establish efficient test systems for therapy and vaccines
  • The Vaccines Working Group, focusing on evaluation of vaccine candidates

*Collins, F. S., and Stoffels, P. Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV): an unprecedented partnership for unprecedented times. JAMA. DOI:10.1001/jama.2020.8929 (2020)


 

Target Reports on Q1 Results

 

In a press release dated May 20th Target Corporation (TGT) announced results for the First quarter of 2020 ending May 2nd.

 

The following table summarizes the results for the period compared with the values for the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year (Values expressed as US$ x 1,000 except EPS)


Brian Cornell, CEO

1st Quarter Ending

May 2nd 2020

May 4th 2019

Difference (%)

Sales:

$19,615,000

$17,627,000

+11.3

Gross profit:

$5,105,000

$5,379,000

-5.1

Operating income:

$468,000

$1,135,000

-58.8

Pre-tax Income

Net Income

$329,000

$284,000

$1,021,000

$795,000

-67.8

-64.3

Diluted earnings per share:

$0.56

$1.53

-63.4

Gross Margin (%)

26.0

30.5

-14.8

Operating Margin (%)

2.4

6.4

-62.5

Profit Margin (%)

1.5

4.5

-66.7

Long-term Debt:

$16,322,000

$13,613,000

+19.9

12 Months Trailing:

 

 

 

Return on Assets (%)

7.0

 

 

Return on Equity (%)

28.3

 

 

Operating Margin (%)

6.1

 

 

Profit Margin (%)

4.2

 

 

Total Assets

$44,806,000

$42,779,000

+4.7

Market Capitalization

$60,075,000

 

 

 

52-Week Range in Share Price: $76.80 to $ 130.24 50-day Moving average $109.21

Market Close Tuesday May 19th 123.20. Noon May 20th post-release $120.13. TGT beat on the top line but COVID expenditure reduced net earnings and EPS.

Forward P/E 25.6 Beta 0.8

 

Same-store sales growth was 10.8 percent. Revenue per transaction up 12.5 percent. Food and Beverage and Durables both up 20 percent; Clothing down 20 percent. Digital sales increased by 141 percent and Same-day delivery (Shipt; Click-and –collect; Drive-through) by 278 percent

 

In commenting on Q1 results Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO stated "Throughout the first quarter, our team and guests faced unprecedented challenges arising from the spread of COVID-19. In the face of those challenges, our team showed extraordinary resilience as guests relied on Target as a trusted resource for their families. With our stores at the center of our strategy, and a significant investment in the safety of our team and guests, our operations had the agility and flexibility needed to meet the changing needs of our business,"

Cornell concluded "With the dedication of our team, the benefit of a sustainable business model and a strong balance sheet, we are confident Target will emerge from this crisis an even stronger retailer, with higher affinity and trust from our guests."

COVID-19 related costs (decontamination, increase in hourly rate of $2, bonuses and incentives) amounted to an incremental cost of $500 million in Q1.

TGT withdrew 2020 guidance based on future uncertainty concerning the economy.


 

Michael Foods to Manufacture and Distribute JUST Egg Substitute

A recent agreement between Michael Foods and JUST, founded and managed by Josh Tetrick, will undertake manufacturing and distribution of the JUST Egg substitute to food service companies.

 

Mark Westphal, President of Michael Foods, a subsidiary of Post Holdings, stated “Eggs will continue to be a nutritious and affordable staple in America’s diet and JUST Plant based egg products provide a great complement to our value-added eggs by allowing customers to serve every consumer their preference.”

 

Currently, JUST is supplied as either a liquid or a pre-baked folded egg patty. Protein is derived from mung beans, but the nutritional content is generally regarded as inferior to real eggs.  Whether the association with Michael Foods will materially increase, market penetration of the egg substitute will be indicated by relative future sales of both the product and real eggs.


 

Agriculture Now Represented on White House Coronavirus Task Force

On Monday, May 18th President Trump announced the appointment of additional members to the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  These include Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.


 

Replacement Components for Old Cage and Floor Installations from Fasteners Resource

Fasteners Resource offers a range of products to prolong the operational life of old cage and floor systems requiring replacements and upgrades. Available components include:-

  • Cage floors, doors, partitions A-frames.
  • Durable curtains to replace flimsy OEM material
  • Feed trough either in stock or custom formed, brackets, chain and accessories.
  • Fabrication of obsolete and unobtainable parts including sprockets, bearings, drive motors and manure belt drives
  • Fasteners, tools and safety equipment

 

Fasteners Resources has welding, forming and bending capability to facilitate re-builds allowing restoration of existing barns without the need to replace systems, prolonging the life of houses thereby saving capital.

 

For additional information click on to the Fasteners Resource logo on the right side of the Welcome page or contact Todd Heimler at (248) 933 4868.


 

SANOVO Technology Group Acquires SonoSteam from FORCE

Sanovo recently acquired SonoSteam, the developer of technology combining application of steam and ultrasound delivered from specially designed nozzles. The process provides efficient chemical-free decontamination for food products and non-food surfaces. A specially constructed treatment chamber that enhances the SonoSteam disinfection system also has wide use within the food industry for green produce, vegetables and fruit as well food contact surfaces including conveyors, trays, trolleys, crates and cutting knives etc.

 

SANOVO acquires all assets, patents, trademarks, name rights, production premises and will retain the technical staff related to the SonoSteam business that will be incorporated into SANOVO Biosecurity A/S with the current Division Director, Niels Krebs from SonoSteam, continuing as president.

 

Michael Midskov, CEO of SANOVO Technology Group stated, “we are proud of the acquisition of SonoSteam, which will allow us to offer environmental and friendly solutions for the removal and reduction of bacteria on table and hatchery eggs, and other food products. With SonoSteam, it is possible to effectively remove and reduce bacteria on washed plastic trays, pallets, shims, and conveyer belts in the egg industry, as well as in other industries where sterilization and bacteria removal is needed/. This is in line with our other business areas outside the egg industry”.

 

Juan Farré, CTO of FORCE Technology that supported SonoSteam noted , “we have spent many years developing and testing SonoSteam, and we believe it is time to bring these solutions to the market”

 


 

Commentary


Nebraska to Cease Releasing COVID-19 Data on Meat Packing Plants

Governor Pete Ricketts stated on Wednesday May 6th that the state would not release specific incidence data for COVID-19 infections in plants in Nebraska.  This decision was apparently justified on the basis of “privacy”.  County health departments have previously issued periodic reports on the incidence of COVID-19 at major plants in the state including the Tyson plant in Madison, and the Smithfield plant in Crete.

 

COVID-19 incidence rates should be made available since workers interact in their communities and often plants are the major employer in a county or region. Differences among plants could indicate more effective protective measures or the existence of specific risk factors that should be addressed.  Suppressing data creates the impression of a cover-up and is a reflection of a totalitarian mentality, foreign to the principles of U.S. democracy. In the absence of official figures speculative and unfounded rumors circulate leading to greater concern than from the expedient of withholding data,


 

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