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The ‘New’ SARS-CoV-2 Variant

We awoke this morning to the news that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID has been characterized in South Africa. This variant designated Strain B.1.1.529 with at least 30 mutations of the spike protein may or may not be more pathogenic but is obviously as infectious or even more so than the predominant Delta strain. The most important question is whether protection stimulated by two doses of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) will provide protection against infection with or without clinical signs. Based on international experience, the Delta strain is capable of infecting those vaccinated, albeit at a lower level and with quantitatively less production and dissemination of virus. This effectively reduces workplace and community spread of COVID. Data shows that non-vaccinated individuals have a ten to twentyfold probability of being hospitalized or dying especially with co-morbidities, as compared to those who are fully vaccinated


The emergence of a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of characteristics was inevitable and was widely predicted.  The probability of a variant emerging and spreading is a function of the proportion of susceptible individuals in a population.  The vaccination rates for the continent of Africa suggest that COVID is not controlled and serves as an incubator for variants. Only one percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is immunized. Only one percent of the 2.7 billion doses of all COVID vaccines of all types have been administered to Africans. South Africa, the most advanced nation on the Continent has achieved a 35 percent administration rate among the 55 million population but with vaccines of inferior antigenicity to the two approved mRNA vaccines deployed in the U.S. The restraint to control in South Africa is independent of cost and availability of vaccines. Due to poor planning, ineffective logistics, and downright governmental incompetence, South Africa is currently administering vaccine to only 100,000 residents per day with an aging stock of 17 million doses that should be deployed to avert a catastrophe.


The immediate response to the news from South Africa was a 900-point plunge on the Dow index with travel, entertainment, financial and oil-related stocks disproportionally affected. This reflects the specter of shutdowns and  deterioration in the economy after signs of restoration to pre-COVID normality.  The situation in South Africa should reinforce the sound advice from the NIH, the CDC and prominent epidemiologists in academia concerning control measures. The U.S. should immediately intensify efforts in the following areas:-


  • Raise vaccination rates. Some counties in the U.S. have populations that are as susceptible as those in South Africa. This is due to misinformation, politicization and the misplaced concept of ‘freedom’.  A reading of the Constitution does not indicate any right to infect one’s fellow citizens.
  • Increase the rate of vaccine administration to residents of third-World nations. Unless COVID can be suppressed on an international basis industrialized nations will remain vulnerable.


  • Health authorities in the U.S. must intensify sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 isolates to identify emerging mutations that can represent enhanced infectivity and pathogenicity.


  • Commonsense protective measures to prevent transmission include masking, avoiding concentration in confined spaces and maintaining social distancing.


  • Home testing kits applying lateral immuno-flow technology should be widely available and subsidized to allow infected but asymptomatic or mildly affected individuals to self-quarantine.


  • The anti-vax lies and misinformation spread by COVID-deniers and pseudo-experts and those profiting from anxiety should be vigorously opposed. A coordinated publicity campaign involving sports and entertainment personalities, civic and religious and industry leaders, scientists, public health authorities and responsible media is required.


Those opposing scientific measures to control COVID including politicians on both sides of the aisle, operators of social media platforms, anti-vax pundits and charlatans have blood on their hands. The new variant is a wake-up call for the U.S. and other industrialized nations. If we wish to restore our pre-COVID way of life and economy now is the time for resolute action.


Egg Industry News


WEEKLY COMMODITY REPORT: November 24th 2021.

  • Commodity prices and volumes fluctuated over a narrow range over the past four trading days but settled relatively unchanged on Wednesday November 24 CME quotations for corn and soybeans were up 1.0 percent and <0.1 percent respectively, compared to Thursday November 18th.
  • Factors influencing prices in either direction included:-
  • Release of the November 9th WASDE with 85 percent of the harvest completed at the time of publication. The report raised corn production 0.3 percent and lowered soybean production by 0.5 percent. The November WASDE retained the projected ending stocks for corn and raised soybean ending stocks by 8.4 percent. (transitory upward pressure);
  • Increasing weekly ethanol production (transitory upward pressure on corn)
  • Projections for new-crop soybeans in Brazil indicate a potential record. (moderate downward pressure on soybeans)
  • The Central Government of China authorized a buying cycle for soybeans as crush margins improve. (upward pressure on soybeans)
  • S producers are now receiving and conversely livestock producers and ethanol refiners in the Midwest will pay above $5.70 per bushel for corn in December, up 1.0 percent and crushers will pay $12.70 per bushel for soybeans plus transport and basis during January 2022, up <0.1 percent from the November 18th quotation for current month delivery. Soybean meal was down 3.5 percent for December delivery compared to last week reflecting lower exports and apparently weaker domestic demand coupled with fluctuation in the price of soybeans during past weeks.


The USDA-FAS Export Report was delayed by the Thanksgiving Holiday but data released on November 26th will be incorporated in the December 1st Edition of CHICK-NEWS


  • The FAS Export Report released on November 18th for the week ending November 11th reflecting market year 2021-2022, confirmed that outstanding export orders for corn for the new market year amounted to 25.20 million metric tons (992 million bushels) with 7.78 million metric tons (306 million bushels) actually shipped. During the past week orders for the 2021-2022 market year amounted to 0.90 million metric tons (35 million bushels) with 1.17 million metric tons (46 million bushels) shipped. For market year 2022-2023 outstanding sales amounted to 0.48 million metric tons (19 million bushels) with 0.14 million metric tons (5.5 million bushels) sold this past week.
  • The FAS Export Report released on November 18th for the week ending November 11th reflecting market year 2021-2022, recorded outstanding export orders for soybeans amounting to 18.05 million metric tons (663 million bushels) with 16.56 million metric tons (608 million bushels) actually shipped. Weekly soybean orders attained 1.39 million metric tons (51 million bushels) with 2.34 million metric tons (86 million bushels) shipped.
  • For the week ending November 11th 183,000 metric tons of soybean meal and cake were ordered for the market year 2021-2022, down 19.4 percent from the previous week. With restoration of operation covering most of the lower Mississippi terminals after damage from Hurricane Ida, 230,555 metric tons of meal and cake was shipped, down 21.2 percent from the previous week and representing 17.6 percent of the total 1,309,000 metric tons shipped during the current marketing year to date.
  • Projected harvests and ending stocks in the U.S. were incorporated in the November WASDE allowing almost complete clarity on quantities harvested and the effect of trade and domestic consumption on ending stocks.


The following quotations for delivery in the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on November 24th 2021, compared with values posted at 15H00 on November 18th 2021 (in parentheses):-


Corn (cents per bushel)

Dec. 579 (573)

March ‘22. 585 (579)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

Jan. ’22 1,266 (1,265).

March ’22. 1,277 (1,276)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

Dec. 358 (371)

March ’22. 349 (360)


Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal over four trading days this past week were:-


Corn: Dec. quotation up 6 cents per bushel (+1.0 percent)

Soybeans: Jan. ’22 quotation up 1 cents per bushel (+<0.1 percent)

Soybean Meal: Dec. quotation down $13 per ton (-3.5 percent )


Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 24th 2021.

Market Overview

  • A noteworthy rise in unit revenue was evident this past week following higher prices the previous week despite the net addition of 5.6 million hens in the producing flock this past week and a 15.4 million algebraic increase over fifteen weeks. Midwest prices for generics are now equivalent to the corresponding week in 2020 after lagging through early November. Wholesale Midwest prices have now advanced even further into positive margins, well above breakeven taking into account the combined costs of nest-run, grading, packaging and delivery.


  • Shell inventory was unexpectedly down by a substantial 13.9 percent following a 9.5 percent decrease last week, denoting the beginning of the seasonal increase in demand. The weekly inventory of shell eggs held by the industry is an important determinant of price. It is now emerging that the inventory held by chains and other significant distributors may be more important in establishing wholesale price especially over the short term. Chains are spreading their purchases and are attempting to preempt anticipated price rises. It is possible that with a large National flock this strategy might suppress traditional pre-Christmas increases. Industry observers and participants expect buyers to adjust purchases only in response to retail demand and will attempt to hold down inventories in their DCs and stores while marking up shelf margins and pressuring suppliers for replenishment of DSD stock. Since the beginning of 2021 generic eggs have been priced, with a few exceptions, at levels to maximize store margins. This strategy noted during October and early November depressed the volume of sales of generics to the disadvantage of the industry. Market data suggests that chains have priced generic white eggs in response to prevailing demand and are infrequently featuring generic Large or Extra large.


  • Currently inventory although down comprises close to five days of production. Price movement over the past ten months and specifically since Labor Day, defies conventional supply to demand relationships and indicates extraneous factors affecting price. Wholesale Midwest prices for Extra- large and Large were higher this past week after sequential weekly declines. This suggests that prices that plateaued at the end of September and declined in October will now show a predicted seasonal increase. The commercial shell-egg price discovery system is obviously used by buyers to negotiate lower prices, serving as a self-fulfilling prophecy and a de facto instrument of potential indirect, but not necessarily intentional, collusion. The current relationship between producers and chain buyers based on a single price discovery system constitutes an impediment to a free market. The benchmark price amplifies both downward and upward swings and functions to the detriment of the industry. A CME quotation based on Midwest Large, responding to demand relative to supply would be more equitable.


  • The U.S. flock in production was up 1.8 percent (5.6 million hens) from the week of November 17th to 325.7 million consistent with planned seasonal molting, placement and depletion, but with about 2.5 million molted hens having resumed production during the past three weeks. The Industry demonstrated beneficial restraint in flock placement in the second and third quarters with continued depletions and non-restocking of some complexes or houses. The trend going forward through the remainder of November into December is for a build in numbers through the third week of December based on chick placement data for July and August. Margins will continue to increase for commodity eggs due to increased demand as predicated by the pattern of seasonal wholesale prices over the past three years.


  • The USDA average Midwest benchmark prices for generic Extra Large and Large were up 35.5 and 36.5 percent on average to 133.5 and 131.5 cents per dozen respectively. Mediums were up 26.1 percent to 101.5 cents per dozen. Third quarter prices reflected static demand, offset by increases in the U.S. flock in production during October. The trajectory of prices through the second week of November confirmed increased seasonal demand coincident with the advent of colder weather. Prices going forward will be determined by the buyers for the major chains in response to consumer demand and taking into account inventory levels. The spike in price for all categories may ebb after Thanksgiving as the pipeline is filled unless demand persists or is even intensified as consumers recognize the value of eggs as a source of inexpensive protein. Margins could be impacted by increasing feed price. Higher chick, labor and fuel costs will detract from profit especially if unit revenue fails to match expectations after Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas weeks in December.


  • There is some prospect of a return of the food service sector with both frozen and dried-egg prices marginally higher over the past month. The economy is reopening despite ongoing concern over COVID incidence rates and hospitalizations in many regions. There is some optimism over the rate of deployment and acceptance of the three available approved vaccines and boosters in diverse regions and demographics. Reopening of the economy and schools in areas with low population immunity has resulted in a rise in the incidence rate of COVID. This is especially the case following the introduction and dissemination of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus that is more infectious and possibly with higher pathogenicity than the alpha and beta strains, especially among the non-immunized proportion of the population that represent an overwhelming majority of those hospitalized.


  • The Midwest price for breaking stock was unchanged at an average of 65.0 cents per dozen. Checks in the Midwest were unchanged at an average of 51.5 cents per dozen. It is anticipated that these prices will fluctuate in response to market trends and gradual recovery of the breaking sector.


The Week in Review


According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports released on November 22nd, the Midwest wholesale price for Extra-large was up 35.5 percent to an average of 133.5 cents per dozen; Large was up 36.2 percent to an average of 131.5 cents per dozen; Mediums were up 26.1 percent to 101.5 cents per dozen as delivered to DCs. Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 6-Region blended nest-run, (excluding provisions for packing, packaging materials and transport) cost of 66.3 cents per dozen in October 2021. The progression of prices during 2021 to date is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


The November 22nd 2021 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 68: No. 47) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $1.07 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending November 15th 2021. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.97 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $1.15 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was 20 cents below the 3-year average. This past week Midwest Large was approximately the same as the corresponding week in 2020 that demonstrated a typical late-Fall upturn. Prices are expected to rise through the Thanksgiving weekend.


Crop Progress

Status of 2021 Corn and Soybean Crops: November 22nd.

The USDA Crop Progress Report released on November 22nd documented progress in harvesting 2021 corn and soybean crops compared to 5-year averages. This past week 95 percent of the corn crop was “in the bin,” 3 percent ahead of the 5-year average. For soybeans 95 percent of the crop has been harvested, an advance of 3 percent over the week but one percent behind the 5-year average of 96 percent. Harvest in many Midwest states was previously impeded by wet weather contributing to high corn moisture values. For the second successive week ending November 21st, 5 to 6 days were suitable for field work among the major states producing corn and soybeans, contributing to harvesting approaching completion.


The ProFarmer Crop Tour completed six weeks ago, estimated corn yield to range from 175.2 to 178.8 bushels per acre with a mean value of 177.0 bushels per acre compared to the November WASDE value of 177.0 bushels per acre. The ProFarmer evaluation corresponded to a projected range for the 2021corn harvest of 14.965 to 15.265 billion bushels with a mean value of 15.116 billion bushels compared to the November WASDE value of 15.062 billion bushels.


The ProFarmer Crop Tour estimated the soybean yield to range from 50.2 to 52.2 bushels per acre with a mean value of 51.2 bushels per acre compared to the November WASDE value of 51.2 bushels per acre. The ProFarmer evaluation corresponded to a projected range for the 2021 soybean harvest of 4.347 to 4.525 billion bushels with a mean value of 4.525 billion bushels compared to the November WASDE value of 4,425 billion bushels.


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 2021 harvest in November.


Reference is made to November 9th WASDE Report #618, in this edition with a final projection of yields, ending stocks and markets.


  Week Ending


Nov 14th

Nov 21st

5-Year Avg

Corn Mature (%)

Corn Harvested (%)







Soybeans Mature (%)

Soybeans Harvested (%)








Ovotrack Provides Traceability Systems to Meet KAT Requirements in the E.U

Approximately 400 egg packing plants in Germany and neighboring E.U. nations participate in the KAT Traceability program. Currently 2,500 farms, 5,400 flocks and 185 feed compounders participate in the system. The KAT traceability program encompasses feed supplier, production farm and packing plant to provide assurances to consumers regarding housing system, welfare, and food safety.


Aldi is the principal supporter of the system and all egg packs sold by the chain in Germany carry an Aldi Transparency Code (ATC) with eggs individually identified with an imprinted code.  Information can be downloaded from the Aldi website by entering the ATC or for eggs purchased from other chains using the stamped KAT number.



To comply with the KAT system, major egg producers have installed Ovotrack software modified to be compatible with plant equipment and systems while complying with KAT requirements.  All Ovotrack installations allow the grader to communicate with farms and distribution centers for complete transparency through the supply chain.


Further details can be obtained from the Ovotrack website by clicking on to the logo on the right side of the Welcome page.

Your Validation System for Eggs




Unilever Divests Tea Business

Unilever, a multinational food supplier, has divested Ekaterra, the division processing and marketing tea products.  CVC Capital Partners has acquired the enterprise for $5 billion including 34 brands including Lipton and Tazo that collectively generated $2 billion in sales in 2020.


The sale of the tea business is consistent with the Unilever strategy to divest brands and companies that do not have the potential for competitively high growth.



H-E-B Unveils Field & Future

H-E-B has introduced the Field & Future brand, featuring a line of eco-friendly personal care and cleaning products.  The range included dish detergents, toothpaste, baby essentials and personal care items.  Most products are categorized as “free-from”, with no animal testing and packed in recyclable material.


The Field & Future range now available at most H-E-B stores will be supplemented with bath tissue, paper towels produced from 100% recycled fiber and laundry, paper and plastic household requirements.


The Field & Future brand was created in cooperation with numerous vendors and also incorporating customer input.  In a company release, Bonny Akers, director of H-E-B brand products stated, “With these environmentally minded products along with our growing sustainability efforts we want to take whatever steps we can towards improving the well-being of our planet, our communities and ourselves.


The H-E-B initiative continues a trend towards private house-brands that offer higher shelf margins or that can be discounted against national brand equivalents. The adoption of these brands is most noticeable by deep-discounter ALDI and club store COSTCO and will progressively include food products.


Avian Influenza Spreading on Three Continents

According to a report authored by Dr. Ian H. Brown, Chair of an avian influenza steering committee of the FAO, 41 nations have reported highly pathogenic avian influenza in either wild birds or domestic poultry since May 2021.  Eleven nations in Asia have been affected, 21 in Europe, and nine in Africa.  Isolates conform to the HA Clade  Most cases in Africa and Europe are caused by H5N1 or H5N8. Asia is impacted by H5N1, H5N2, H5N6, and H5N8.


Since September 2021 there has been an increase in H5N1 outbreaks in Europe.  During September cases occurred in the  Russian Federation, the Czech Republic. Italy and the U.K. reported cases in October with isolates demonstrating similar genotypes with characteristics reminiscent of strains isolated  from cases in Africa during late 2020 and early 2021.


Prof. Ian Brown OBE

Co-circulation of different H5 lineages in diverse populations of free living birds will lead to evolution by both drift and reassortment.  Fortunately avian epidemiologists can apply genome sequence analysis to monitor the emergence of novel strains including recombinants.


Given the role of free-living birds in transmission and dissemination of H5N1, it is necessary to enhance biosecurity in commercial operations and to maintain surveillance. If vaccination is used as a control measure it is critical to match antigen to the prevalent strain in an affected area.


Eight EU Nations Report H5N1 in Migratory Birds

In a November 19th posting, ProMED-mail documented reports of highly pathogenic H5N1 isolates from free-living birds in Belgium, France, Hungary, Romania, Netherlands, Italy and Estonia.  Species infected included geese, swans, gulls, falcons and cormorants.  The number of outbreaks among migratory and resident birds is far higher in 2021compared to previous years.  Holland has recorded twenty-six outbreaks in the past week and nine by Estonia.  Other nations have confirmed one to five cases each.  The number of reports is obviously a reflection of the intensity of surveillance and sampling of both dead and hunter-killed birds.


The trend and frequency of isolation of avian influenza viruses from migratory and free-living birds serves as a predictor of future outbreaks in backyard and non-confined commercial flocks. Deficiencies in either structural or operational biosecurity in large complexes will lead to outbreaks in confined flocks if migratory birds introduce avian influenza viruses to an area.


Germany has reported two outbreaks in backyard multispecies flocks.  Italy has recorded fifty-nine outbreaks since mid-October in turkeys, laying hens, broilers, ducks and quail.  Hungary reported six outbreaks in commercial farms involving breeding ducks and geese maintained for production of foie gras.  A total of 332,000 birds were depleted as a control measure.  Given the high prevalence of H5N1 in numerous species of migratory waterfowl and shore birds in 2021 in the E.U., recommendations to confine flocks should be followed. 

Flocks Vulnerable to HPAI in France

Speakers at recent USDA-APHIS webinars stressed the need to upgrade biosecurity and to maintain strict separation between wild birds and commercial flocks, preventing both direct and indirect contact with wild bird reservoirs of infection. Farm employees should not participate in hunting birds. All personnel should undergo appropriate decontamination before entry to a commercial poultry facility.


Fasteners Resource Installs Additional Manufacturing Equipment

Fasteners Resource recently acquired new automated welding equipment to fabricate cage partitions, floors and doors for installations that have undergone age-related deterioration.  Maintenance and upgrading can support production and contribute to cash flow in fully depreciated facilities irrespective of mandates to convert to alternatives to cages by 2025.


Currently, Fasteners Resources is fabricating ladders for aviary units considered essential to train pullets and to achieve acceptable distribution of a flock among all tiers.  The company offers three-week delivery and will fabricate according to OEM or requested designs and configurations. 


To discuss requirements and to obtain quotations contact Todd Heimler <> or (248) 933-4868.


Japan Reports HPAI on Egg Production Farms

Japan has diagnosed the first outbreaks of avian HPAI influenza on commercial farms in 2021.  The first case is in a unit housing 143,000 hens in Yokote City in Akita Prefecture.  According to media reports, a second farm was infected with an H5 strain HPAI on November 12th in Kagoshima Prefecture.  In view of the fact that the two outbreaks are separated by a distance of 800 miles, it may be assumed that the infection is widespread in migratory waterfowl that are currently moving across Southeast Asia with Japan, South Korea and China at risk.  Most recently Japan experienced outbreaks of H5N8 at the end of 2020 and H5N6 during the winter of 2016.  Previous outbreaks were recorded seasonally in 2005 and 2007.


Should the situation deteriorate with extensive losses due to depopulation of farms as in previous years, Japan will look to the U.S. for supplies of shell eggs and increase importation of egg liquids.

Map of Japan showing distance between HPAI outbreaks: #1 Akita Prefecture, #2 Kagomisha prefecture both costal regions on migratory flyways


Salmonellosis Acquired from Onions-Case Total Mounts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now documented 892 cases of Salmonella Oranienburg infection involving thirty-eight states and Puerto Rico.  The case number extends to October 25th with more case reports anticipated.


Onions imported from Mexico and distributed by ProSource Produce LLC were responsible for the outbreak. Product was distributed to a range of wholesalers an suppliers who repacked under brand names for supermarkets and food service providers.


 Since onions have a long shelf life, contaminated product is still in homes and may result in additional exposure of consumers.  This outbreak may well exceed 1,000 diagnosed cases, but the actual number of those infected may be five or ten-fold greater since not all affected consumers seek medical attention and many cases are treated symptomatically without laboratory investigations.


Walmart and Target Comment on Employment Status

The National Retail Federation estimates that between 500,000 and 600,000 seasonal workers will be required in 2021, approximately 20 percent more than in 2020 given COVID restrictions during the fourth quarter of the previous year.  In investor calls, both Walmart and Target have indicated that they have not experienced difficulty in filling positions. 


Walmart has successively increased wage rates in three tranches and has introduced other benefits including medical and educational concessions. The Company will hire for additional positions in distribution centers and for the internal supply chain.


Target has announced that it will hire 100,000 seasonal employees, approximately 30 percent less than in previous years.  The Target strategy will be to increase hours for existing employees who are both trained and motivated.  The company has budgeted five million additional hours for existing staff, requiring an incremental expenditure of $75 million.  Increases in wage and salary rates, and other benefits have resulted in a high rate of employee retention that benefits the company and indirectly contributes to customer satisfaction.


Walmart Testing Drones for Delivery

Walmart in collaboration with Zipline is testing drone delivery in Arkansas.  Zipline technology includes a platform located adjacent to a store with drones and their operators trained to manage aerial delivery over a 50-mile radius.


It is evident that delivery weight is a restraint, and the service will probably be used for medical necessities, prescriptions and small urgently required personal care products especially in remote locations and during inclement weather.


Based on improvements in technology it is evident that drone delivery will serve as an adjunct to delivery using conventional vehicles including autonomous EVs.  Correctly implemented, technologies such as drone delivery will ultimately find applications and provide benefits to both retailers and consumers.


Ahold Delhaize Projects Doubled Sales Worldwide by 2025

According to an article in Supermarket News, Ahold Delhaize intends increasing annual revenue by $12 billion by 2025.  This goal was declared by president and CEO Frans Muller in an investment call on Monday, November 15th.


The Company intends to increase sales through extending digital capability, implementing an omni-channel transformation and by creating one-stop destinations for customers.  The company aims for its banners to be leaders within their markets.  This is exemplified by the Giant Company expanding in Philadelphia, metropolitan New York and southern New Jersey.


U.S. CEO, Kevin Holt noted “Customers are constantly in motion looking for convenient and personalized solutions to save time.”  He added, “Our strategy is built on providing relevant omni-channel solutions so our customers can enjoy the moments that matter in their lives.” 


Ahold Delhaize will rely heavily on technology and self-distribution.  Subsidiary ADUSA will operate 25 DCs and 28 E-commerce fulfillment centers and will also provide click-and-collect convenience at 1,500 locations by the end of 2022.


Panera Bread Unveils New Restaurant Concept

Panera Bread, a subsidiary of JAB and scheduled to be publicly traded again, has unveiled a new bakery-cafe concept near their St. Louis headquarters in Ballwin, MO.  Eduardo Luz, Chief Brand and Concept Officer, stated “Our new bakery-cafe is designed with the best of what makes Panera unique - a warm, inviting environment that delights our guests with the smell of freshly baked bread coupled with tech-enabled convenience.”


The store features two drive-through lanes, one for pre-ordered meals and the other for order placement and pick up.



Southeastern Grocers Encouraging Local Suppliers

Southeastern Grocers the holding company for Winn-Dixie, Harvey’s Supermarket and Fresco y Mas banners is encouraging local suppliers to stock their shelves.  Stores will hold sourcing events in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi providing an opportunity for potential suppliers to demonstrate products and to present marketing plans. 


According to an article in Supermarket News Dewayne Rabon, Senior Vice-president and Chief Merchant stated, “our communities are our heart and soul and we are committed to helping them thrive.”  He added, “As a grocer in the southeast we are proud of our roots and we strive to share and encourage the culture of our communities by highlighting local products in each of our stores.”  Southeast Grocers is also recruiting suppliers with ownership diversity who can supply grocery, general merchandise, beauty and personal care products.  A conference in May promoted inclusion among suppliers, associates and communities.


Salmonella Outbreak in UK Rises to 530 Cases

The U.K. Food Standards Agency and their counterpart in Scotland have issued an advisory against the consumption of a number of brands of pork-derivedsnacks.  The number of cases had risen to 534 by late October from September 2020, with a sharp increase in June 2021.  Whole genome sequencing has identified a single strain of Salmonella Infantis as being responsible and this outbreak strain was identified in unopened bags of product at a plant operated by the Tayto Group.  Since the plant was closed, there has been a reduction in incidence rate, but additional cases will occur as contaminated product carries best-before dates into late February 2022.


The Food Service Agency is investigating the source of the contamination of the range of Tayto brands including Mr. Porky and Jay’s.  Three nations supplied pork rinds to the Tayto Group including Canada where product contaminated with Salmonella was identified by authorities. An additional question concerning contamination relates to the fact that pork rinds, pork scratchings, and pork cracklings are cooked at a temperature that should destroy Salmonella, suggesting contamination between processing and packing.



Salmonellosis from Backyard Chickens Continues

In a November 18th release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented an increase in cases of salmonellosis in the ongoing outbreak attributed to contact with backyard chickens.  From January 1st of the current year, 1,135 cases were recorded in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Only 13 cases were confirmed in January and February, but reports rose sharply thereafter from April through August.  Of those infected, 273 were hospitalized and two fatalities were attributed to the outbreak.


A variety of serotypes were isolated including S.Enteritidis, Hadar, Indiana, Infantis, Mbandaka, and Muenchen.  The CDC noted that the number of actual infections far exceeds the documented level since many affected patients either do not seek medical attention or are treated symptomatically without laboratory investigation.  It is noteworthy that 24 percent of the cases occurred in children under five years of age and 12 percent were under 12 months.  Of 677 patients interviewed, 66 percent reported direct contact with backyard poultry before onset of symptoms.  Chicks and ducklings for backyard flocks are purchased from feed stores or are ordered directly from small hatcheries.  The CDC recorded 264 separate purchases from 150 locations with 17 hatcheries involved.


Recovery and collation of data from as many as 48 states, DC, and Puerto Rico is only possible using the PulseNet system to identify cases that are then entered into the national database including the results of whole genome sequencing.  State public health officials demonstrated commonality among infective strains in patients and their poultry in Ohio, California, Arizona, and Maryland.


Of the 1,112 samples subjected to laboratory examination 35 percent were predicted to be resistant to one or more antibiotics used for human therapy including ampicillin, streptomycin, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.  Despite the CDC publishing advisories and recommending procedures including hand-washing it is impossible to prevent transmission of Salmonella from backyard poultry in their environment to residents of homes including children.  Backyard poultry are inappropriate as pets and yield very expensive potentially contaminated eggs.


The cookie-cutter recommendations provided by the CDC to prevent salmonellosis sourced from backyard flocks and eggs are obviously not followed or are inadequate given the increasing incidence of infection.


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