Egg Industry News


Egg Week

09/16/2020

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, September 16th 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was up 0.3 million from the previous week at 311.6 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets reaching maturity.
  • Shell inventory was down 0.7 percent after a 4.1 percent increase last week indicating higher demand. There is some evidence of a return in the food service sector as the economy cautiously reopens but the incidence rate of COVID-19 is increasing in some regions.
  • USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium were unchanged to averages of 81.5, 79.5 and 55.5 cents per dozen respectively. Prices will continue to fluctuate in a narrow range as molted hens resume production and pullets commence lay unless offset by proportional increase in demand past the Labor Day weekend.
  • The price of breaking stock and checks in the Midwest were unchanged to averages of 46.0 and 36.5 cents per dozen respectively.

OVERVIEW

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on September 14th 2020 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large, Large and Mediums as delivered to DCs attained averages of 81.5, 79.5 and 55.5 cents per dozen. Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 5-Region blended nest-run, (excluding provisions for packing and transport) cost of 58.0 cents per dozen in August 2020. The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The September 14th 2020 USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 37) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.89 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending September 9th. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.80 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $0.95 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was about 18 cents per dozen below the 3-year average and 20 cents per dozen below the corresponding week in 2019.


 


Kroger Reports on Q2 of 2020

09/15/2020

On September 11th, the Kroger Company (KR) reported on the second quarter of fiscal 2020 ending August 15th.

 

For the period, sales attained $30.489 billion with net earnings of $819 million and an EPS of $1.04.  The corresponding values for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 ending August 17th comprised sales of $28.17 billion with net earnings of $297 million and an EPS of $0.37.  Gross margin was 22 percent for the most recent quarter compared to 21.9 percent for the corresponding second quarter of fiscal 2020.

 

Same-store sales increased by 14.6 percent and digital sales by 127 percent compared with the second quarter of 2019.  On August 15th, Kroger posted total assets of $47.54 billion and carried long-term debt including leases and other obligations of $20.96 billion. 

 

In commenting on results, Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO stated, "our top priority is to provide a safe environment for associates and customers and as the pandemic continues, we will continue to rise to meet the challenge".  He added "we are more certain than ever that the strategic choices and investments made through Restock Kroger have allowed us to execute against our competitive obstacles.  Our Brands® have positioned Kroger to meet the moment especially as customers are recovering their passion for food at home”.

 

Kroger traded during the past 52 weeks over a range of $23.71 to $37.22.  The company closed on September 10th at $34.85 and was little changed by the release, closing on Friday at $34.37.  KR has a market capitalization of $26.74 billion and trades with a forward P/E of 12.5. Over the past 12 months, operating margin attained 2.51 percent and profit margin 1.66 percent.  Return on assets was 4.4 percent with 22.0 percent on equity.


 

Renewable Fuel Association Receives Three Benefits

09/15/2020

On September 14th, three decisions were announced benefiting the renewable fuel industry and indirectly, corn farmers.  The first item was formal rejection by the EPA of a total of 54 pending gap-year small refinery exemptions.  This action was taken in accordance with the January decision of the Tenth Circuit Court that ruled that exemptions should be extensions and not new requests.

 

The second boon was the announcement by Brazil that the recently expired tariff rate quota on U.S. ethanol will be extended for 30 days awaiting negotiation of a more comprehensive bilateral trade deal.

 

Finally the White House announced that existing pumps dispensing E-10 (10 percent ethanol blend) could now be used to sell E-15 comprising a 15 percent ethanol inclusion (energy dilution) in gasoline, subject obviously to appropriate designation of product.  Details are however subject to state approval and modification of OSHA regulations and other requirements depending on location.  It is questioned how filling stations will offer E-10 as well as E-15 from available pumps since a high proportion of vehicles on the road cannot accept E-15. There are doubts as to whether there will be an increase in actual volume of ethanol consumed or whether the decision announced in the form of a tweet is more politics than substance.


 

Vital Foods Reports on Q2 of FY 2020

09/15/2020

In a press release dated September 10th 2020, Vital Farms, (VITL) a Certified B Corporation announced results for the 2nd Quarter of Fiscal 2020 ending June 28th 2020.

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 $ x 1,000 except EPS)

 2nd Quarter Ending

June 28th 2020

June 30th 2019

Difference (%)

Revenue:

$59,341

$32,285

+83.8

Gross profit:

$22,698

$11,000

+106.3

Operating income:

$9,062

$3,909

+131.8

Net Income

$5,694

$2,799

+113.1

Diluted earnings per share:

$0.16

$0.08

+100.0

Gross Margin (%)

38.3

34.1

+12.3

Operating Margin (%)

15.3

12.1

+26.5

Profit Margin (%)

10.0

8.7

+14.9

Long-term Debt and leases:

$8,880

$3,693

+140.5

12 Months Trailing:

Return on Assets

N/A

Return on Equity

N/A

Operating Margin

1.3

Profit Margin

0.8

Total Assets

$77,937

$61,948

+25.8

Market Capitalization

$1,440,000

 Range in Share Price since Aug 4th IPO: $34.04 to $43.03 

50-Day moving average $37.53

Market Close: 15th $36.63

Forward P/E: 357


 

La Nina Event Confirmed by NOAA

09/15/2020

On September 9th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that a La Nina event has commenced and will last through the winter of 2020 in the northern hemisphere.  The effects of La Nina in the Pacific include an intense hurricane season, a cold, wet winter for the Midwest, dry weather in the southeast states, wetter conditions for northern Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and extremely dry conditions for the Pacific coast region of South America.

NOAA issued a La Nina watch in July as reported by EGG-NEWS.  The global effects of a La Nina are due to lower ocean surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific and movement of the jet stream southward over North America.

 

NOAA is currently evaluating the effect of global warming that may interact with La Nina and El Nino events which occur in roughly three to five year cycles.  Brandon Miller, a meteorologist affiliated to cable news channel CNN noted, “2020 is already trending as one of the top two warmest years on record.”  He added, “top spots on the warmest years used to be reserved for the strong El Nino years, but human influence has long since overwhelmed the planet’s natural temperature regulators.”

Information on the La Nina event can be retrieved by accessing “El Nino” in the SEARCH feature

 


 

USDA Issues Health Alert on Duck Blood Product from China

09/15/2020

The U.S Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service [FSIS] has issued a public health alert regarding a consignment of cooked duck blood curds illegally imported from China. A formal recall has not been issued since the importer has not been identified and located.  The product was not accompanied by a certificate of health from authorities in China and was not presented for FSIS inspection after importation.

There is considerable danger in importing products such as duck blood, since it may not have been adequately heat-treated and may transmit pathogens including avian influenza.

 

Illegal shipment of nontraditional foods and products from China, often smuggled within legal consignments, has the potential to introduce exotic pathogens such as foot and mouth disease, African swine fever and avian influenza.  Illegal importation of pork into the UK was responsible for an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1999. It is assumed that some form of illegal importation was responsible for the introduction of porcine epidemic diarrhea into the U.S. and Canada in 2013.


 

Salmonella control in Hungarian lLvestock and Poultry

09/14/2020

Hungary has released results of a Salmonella control program for the ten-year period 2007-2017 partly supported by European Union.  The program focused on control of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and S. Typhimurium (ST) in parent-level flocks and commercial-level egg-producing hens, broilers, turkeys and hogs. In 2016 there were 4,722 cases of SE or ST with 1,745 hospitalizations and 12 fatalities.  The analysis of prevalence of data showed that the program probably prevented 700,000 cases requiring 5,400 hospitalizations and thirty fatalities between 2007 and 2017 saving $100 million in direct and indirect costs to the Nation.

 


 

Egg Production in Saudi Arabia Impacted by HPAI

09/14/2020

According to USDA-FAS GAIN report 2020-0013 released on September 10th, Saudi Arabia produced 5.2 billion table eggs in 2018.  Assuming an average flock production of 75 percent on a hen-day saleable basis, the national flock averages 19 million hens in production.

 

In February 2020, producers in Saudi Arabia were impacted by an outbreak of H5N8 that reduced output by 30 percent.  The decrease in production coincided with increased demand associated with a COVID-19 lockdown.  Accordingly, egg prices soared in response. The Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company, a state entity, imported table eggs from the Ukraine, the EU and Turkey in addition to some shipments from the U.S.  Flocks were replenished by the third quarter and market stability has returned.  Traditionally Saudi Arabia is more than self-sufficient in eggs although it is estimated that per capita consumption is at 150 eggs suggesting a potential for increased demand.  Surplus eggs are exported to other GCC nations with Bahrain predominating and the UAE representing the second largest importer.


 

California More Stringent Than Federal OSHA

09/14/2020

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited DL Poultry and Olson Meat Company with failing to protect workers against COVID-19.  Fines of $52,000 and $9,000 respectively were proposed.

 

Doug Parker, Chief of the California OSHA stated, "we have identified certain industries as priorities in our strategic enforcement efforts to make sure employers have adequate COVID-19 infection prevention procedures in place".  He added " certain industries where workers have been disproportionately affected and these citations are the first of many to be issued in the coming weeks and months".

 

The State department noted that DL Poultry and Olson Meat put their workers at risk for serious illness because they did not ensure physical distancing of at least six feet in the processing areas, neither did they install barriers between the workers".

 

From this report it is apparent that California is more active in enforcing worker health and safety requirements than the Federal OSHA.  The magnitude of fines is obviously greater than the proposed $13,000 imposed by the Federal OSHA on Smithfield Foods, Sioux Falls hog plant and the JBS Greeley, CO. beef plant. The Smithfield plant, responsible for five percent of the nation's pork production recorded 13,000 cases of COVID-19 representing 18 percent of the workforce.


 

Status of 2019 Corn and Soybean Crops

09/14/2020

The USDA Crop Progress Report released on September 14th documented corn continuing to mature and soybeans dropping leaves close to or ahead of the 5-year averages despite the earlier start in 2020. Corn harvesting has commenced and is advanced in North Carolina (47 percent) and Texas (67 percent). The condition of both corn and soybean crops that were unaffected by the August 10th derocho, although having deteriorated during the past three weeks from drought, are recovering following rains in the Midwest and are superior to the 2019 season.

Subsoil and surface moisture levels denote some relief from drought conditions except in Western and Pacific states. Both topsoil and subsoil moisture improved this past week. The corn-belt has experienced unseasonal high temperatures in combination with elevated humidity that may predispose to mycotoxicosis in the 2020 corn harvest. 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 September 11th WASDE Report #604 under the STATISTICS tab documenting projected 2020 acreage, yields and ending stocks for corn and soybeans.

The Pro Farmer 7-State Crop Tour projected corn and soybean yields of 177.5 and 52.5 bushels per acre respectively, lower than USDA August estimates that were revised to 178.5 and 51.9 bushels per acre respectively in the September 11th WASDE Report.

 

WEEK ENDING

Crop

September 6th

September 13th

5-Year Average

Corn Dough (%)

Corn Dented (%)

Corn Mature (%)

Corn Harvested

100

79

25

-

100

89

41

5

100

82

32

5

Soybeans Setting Pods (%)

Soybeans Dropping Leaves (%)

100

20

100

37

100

31

Crop Condition

V. Poor

 Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

Corn 2020 (%)

Corn 2019 (%) *

* late planting

5

4

10

10

25

31

46

44

14

11

Soybeans 2020 (%)

Soybeans 2019 (%)*

 * late planting N/A

3

4

8

10

26

32

50

45

13

9

Parameter

V. Short

Short

Adequate

Surplus

Topsoil moisture: Past Week

13

25

56

6

Past Year

11

22

55

12

Subsoil moisture: Past Week

14

26

55

5

Past Year

9

22

59

10


 

USDA to Publish Rule on Inspection of Egg Products

09/13/2020

According to a September 9th release by the USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service, Egg Products Inspection Regulations will be modified by issue of a new final rule. This will mandate HACCP systems and Standard Sanitation Operating Procedures.  FSIS will continue to monitor for the presence of Salmonella and Listeria in egg products. It will no longer be necessary for plants producing egg products to have a full-time inspector. They will visit plants once per shift and as many as 83 facilities will operate in conformity with an HACCP program.

 

According to FSIS administrator Paul Kiecker, “Requiring egg product plants to develop food safety systems and procedures similar to meat and poultry requirements is a significant milestone in modernizing our inspection system.” 

 

FSIS will now extend regulatory authority over egg substitutes and freeze-dried egg products and will require inspection to ensure that standards of production and processing are equivalent to egg products. New regulations will address imported egg products with many supplying nations achieving equivalence through HACCP programs for their domestic production.

 

Placing the onus on plant operators to implement and maintain procedures that contribute to wholesome products parallels the approach with meat and poultry facilities.  Kiecker noted, “We feel very confident that, based on the once-per-shift approach, that we will still be able to verify that they are producing safe product.”

 

Inevitably opponents of intensified agricultural and livestock production are raising questions as to wholesomeness in the absence of continual USDA inspection. Given that egg products are pasteurized, regular monitoring of the documentation generated by a structured HACCP system should be adequate to maintain safety.


 

National Association of Chain Drug Stores Urges Seasonal Flu Vaccination

09/13/2020

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has initiated a campaign to encourage administration of seasonal influenza vaccines.  The problem of vaccination is intensified in 2020 given the prevalence of COVID-19.  Many supermarket chains with pharmacies will be offering vaccines to enhance protection for staff and recipients.  Wegmans will be offering influenza vaccination clinics including community events and drive-through programs.

 

Influenza is responsible for millions of cases each year, many requiring hospitalization and fatalities extend into many thousands depending on strain and weather conditions.  It is important to prevent influenza by vaccination to spare medical resources to treat COVID patients.

 

Again, EGG-NEWS strongly urges producers to ensure that plant and farm workers are protected against seasonal strains using available vaccines.  With the approach of Fall, vaccination clinics should be planned for September. There will be increased demand for vaccines in the next six weeks suggesting administration this month to ensure availability and to allow immunity to develop before mid-October.


 

Response to a Case of COVID in a Plant

09/12/2020

The National Dairy Federation has issued an advisory for milk producers in the event that an employee contracts COVID-19.  Their recommendations are appropriate for egg production farms and packing plants.

 

  • If the employee complains of fever, a cough or other symptoms in the workplace, the individual should be sent home and a sample should be submitted for diagnosis
  • If an employee phones in from home claiming fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 they should be instructed to stay at home and arrange for testing.
  • Employers have an obligation to inform ‘close contacts’ of the infected employee that they may have been exposed to the virus.  It is essential to maintain confidentiality with respect to the infected individual. Obviously in a small workforce the identity will become known but this should not be from the employer.  For the purposes of defining “close contact”, this would entail working within six feet over a prolonged period of time.  In the context of egg-packing plants this would obviously apply to workers transferring packs to outer containers where close contact is inevitable.
  • A report to the Occupational Health Safety Administration may be required since the employee may have contracted COVID-19 in the workplace although this is virtually impossible to confirm.
  • The Workman’s Compensation carrier should be informed of the infection and claim forms should be provided for the employee.

 

Prevention is obviously preferable to having to address an outbreak and accordingly the accepted precautions are required. These comprise providing masks, social distancing as far as possible, health screening at the beginning of the working day, hand washing and personal hygiene and education of workers.  It is self-evident that any written recommendations should be in the language understood by workers.

 

All workers should receive the seasonal influenza vaccine since concurrent COVID-19 influenza will predispose a severe disease and freedom from influenza from vaccination will expedite a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19.

 

OSHA proposed the maximum penalty of $14,000 on Smithfield Foods as a result of COVID-19 in their Sioux Falls, SD. plant for failing to protect employees from exposure.  In addition to OSHA citations, an extensive outbreak will inevitably lead to civil claims that will be expensive to defend.  Punitive damages could be assessed if wanton disregard for the safety of employees is demonstrated. State Departments of Occupational Safety such as in California have already issued citations and fines against small-scale meat processors in amounts far in excess of the Smithfield fine.


 

Advances in Recycling Technology

09/12/2020

LyondellBassell a major multinational plastics, chemicals and refining company has initiated operation of a pilot-scale MoReTec recycling plant in Italy.  Plastic can be degraded to molecular form and reconstituted as feedstock for new plastic items.  The technology was developed in collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.  Proof of principle was demonstrated in laboratory studies.  Based on the results, LyondellBassell erected the small-scale commercial plant in Ferrara, Italy.  The company is committed to recycling and has established joint ventures with other chemical companies to recycle plastic waste and vegetable oils.


Lyondellblassell Pilot Plastic Re-cycling Plant in Ferrara, Italy

 

Albertsons Offering At-Home COVID Sampling

09/12/2020

Albertsons Companies operating 1,276 pharmacies among their chain of 2,200 stores has established an alliance with a laboratory in New York to conduct PCR assays on samples submitted by customers.  Those wishing a test are required to complete a questionnaire that is reviewed by a pharmacist.  Saliva samples are collected and shipped to the laboratory using a pre-paid mailer or are forwarded by the store.  Results should be available within 72 hours from the time the lab receives the sample. Given delays involved it would appear that even when the initial logistic problems are resolved the turnaround time from onset of symptoms or concern over contact will be in the region of 4 to 5 days at best. This is useless in the context of preventing spread since the sampled person is unlikely to be isolated while awaiting the result and by then it would be too late to initiate tracing of possible contacts. All that will be achieved is confirmation of exposure at some point in time previous to submission of the sample.

Tests are performed on an out-of-pocket basis with patients submitting documents for reimbursement.  The laboratory tests conducted by Phosphorus Inc. are conducted in accordance with an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

Essentially Albertsons are not offering a “test” but stores serve as collection points for saliva samples. The Company have not indicated the price for the assay.


 

AMS Increases Purchase of Eggs and Egg Products in Fiscal 2020

09/11/2020

According to a September 10th USDA-AMS press release, the Agricultural Marketing Service purchased 46 million pounds of egg products and 27 million pounds of shell eggs in fiscal 2020.  A total of 73.6 million pounds represented more than double the fiscal 2019 combined purchase of 35.6 million pounds. 

 

Based on the needs of the underprivileged, AMS purchased frozen whole egg in 2-pound packages to be used for poverty relief through Emergency Food Assistant Programs.  The proportions run counter to normal years when AMS acquires predominantly egg products.  During fiscal 2020, the volume of shell eggs purchased tripled and the volume of egg products doubled.


 

Brazil Ethanol Tariff in Limbo

09/11/2020

The August 31st expiry of the tariff-free quota (TFQ) for U.S. ethanol imported into Brazil has passed without a decision on imposing the 20 percent duty.  According to The Progressive Farmer, a possible agreement might be negotiated as a temporary measure until a more comprehensive bilateral trade pact is concluded.

Imposition of a 20 percent tax on U.S. ethanol would be yet another blow to the beleaguered ethanol industry that underwent a 30 percent decline in exports during July.  The Renewable Fuels Association ascribed this to the "spread of protectionist trade barriers around the globe impacting demand for U.S. ethanol.

In response to the expiry of the TFQ the Administration noted that reciprocal tariffs will be imposed on Brazil unless the duty remained in abeyance.  A tariff war as we have experienced would be mutually destructive.  The solution to a trade dispute is through diplomacy and establishing positive programs that can benefit both nations.  The biblical approach of an eye-for-an eye- and a tooth-for-a-tooth will result in blind and toothless parties.


 

USDA-WASDE FORECAST #604 September 11th 2020

09/11/2020

OVERVIEW

The September 11th 2020 USDA WASDE Report was updated from the August edition reflecting drought conditions and the August 10th derecho with consequences to corn and soybean harvests. September projections are based on updated estimates of harvest area and yield. The corn acreage to be harvested is currently estimated at 83.5 million acres, down 0.5 million acres from the August 12th WASDE report. Soybeans will be harvested from 83.0 million acres, unchanged from the August WASDE report.

 

The September 2020 WASDE estimate of corn yield was lowered 1.6 percent to 178.5 bushels per acre, (168.0 bushels per acre in 2019). The projection of soybean yield was lowered 2.6 percent to 51.9 bushels per acre. (47.4 bushels per acre in 2019)

 

The September USDA projection for the ending stock of corn was decreased by 9.2 percent to 2,503 million bushels. Due to decreased supply the ending stock for soybeans was reduced by 24.6 percent to 460 million bushels.

 

Projections for ending stocks of both corn and soybeans have influenced recent CME price quotations concurrently with increased compliance with the Phase-One trade agreement with China. The September WASDE projected the corn price at $3.50 per bushel and soybeans at 925 cents per bushel.


 


COMMODITY REPORT: September 11th 2020.

09/11/2020

  • The financial and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic continue but gradual easing is expected as society returns to a “new normal” despite a recent noteworthy upsurge in cases in some areas of the U.S.

 

  • Export data, the August 10th derecho storm and lower projections for 2020 crop yields developed from the Pro Farmer 7-state Tour and the September 11th WASDE Report influenced commodity prices this past week. Corn showed an increase of 5.5 percent for the week based on export orders from China reducing ending stocks. Soybeans rose 4.8 percent in price this week on orders booked by China and lower ending stocks attributed to a downward revision of yield.

 

  • Since July 10th year-to-date exports and 2020/2021 market year orders for corn have attained 6.78 million metric tons [265.2 million bushels]. Exports and orders for soybeans amounted to 10.3 million tons (378.3 million bushels).

 

  • Prospects for commodity exports to China during the 2020/2021 market year that began on September 1st have improved. China adjusted their domestic short-term demand for soybeans as a result of an apparent stabilization of the hog herd after severe losses in 2019 and early 2020 from African swine fever. White-feathered chicken production has now recovered after COVID disruptions and QSR demand. China is also taking advantage of shipping rates that are rising in order to build inventory.

 

The following quotations for September and December delivery were posted by the CME at 15H30 on September11th compared with values posted on September 4th  (in parentheses) reflecting specified months for delivery.

COMMODITY

Corn (cents per bushel)

 Sept.  366  (347)

Dec.  369  (357)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

 Sept. 1,025  (978)

Nov.  997  (969)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

 Sept.    317  (311)

Dec.  325  (318)

 

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

 

COMMODITY            CHANGE FROM PAST WEEK

Corn:                  Sept. quotation up 19 cents per bushel          (+5.5 percent)              

Soybeans:          Sept. quotation up 47 cents per bushel          (+4.8 percent)

Soybean Meal:    Sept. quotation up $6 per ton                         (+1.9 percent)

 

  • For each 10 cent per bushel change in corn:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.45 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight

 

  • For each $10 per ton change in the price of soybean meal:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.44 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight


 


Costco Wholesale Reports Growth in August Sales

09/10/2020

Costco Wholesale reported that for the four weeks ended August 30th, net sales increased by 15 percent to $13.6 billion excluding fuel. Comparable store sales rose 14.3 percent excluding fuel in the U.S. The increase was 15.0 percent in Canada and 15.4 percent international taking into account foreign exchange.  E-commerce sales doubled on a comparable basis.


 

STOP PRESS

09/10/2020

USDA-FSIS to Upgrade Egg Products Inspection Regulations

 

In a September release USDA-FSIS announced intended changes to regulations relating to inspection of egg products. Processors will have to conform to HACCP procedures and SSOPs but will be allowed greater flexibility in operation. FSIS inspectors will visit plants but will not necessarily maintain a continuous presence.  FSIS will in future extend regulatory authority to egg substitutes.

 


 

REVIEW OF AUGUST 2020 EGG PRODUCTION COSTS AND STATISTICS

09/09/2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • August 2020 USDA ex-farm blended nest-run benchmark price was 53.7 cents per dozen, 3.7 percent higher than the amended July value of 51.8 cents per dozen but 58.2 percent lower than the exceptionally high April value of 128.5 cents per dozen. The downward price trend from mid-May through July is attributed to restoration of normal consumer purchasing patterns coupled with diversion of eggs form breaking to the shell-egg market. This situation followed COVID-19 panic buying during late March into early April. The supply pipeline was re-filled in April and consumption declined thereafter. Currently stock levels and prices indicate a balance between supply and demand albeit at a low price attributable to over-production and diversion.
  • August 2020 USDA average nest-run production cost was 0.2 cents per dozen lower than in July 2020 at 58.0 cents per dozen.
  • August 2020 USDA benchmark nest-run margin attained a negative value of 4.3 cents per dozen compared to a negative margin of 6.9 cents per dozen as amended for July 2020.
  • July 2020 national flock in production (over 30,000 hens/farm) was down 3.1 million hens or 1.0 percent to 299.1 million. There are approximately 7.5 million hens in molt or due to return from molt.
  • July 2020 pullet chick hatch was down 15.7 percent from June 2020 to 23.1 million.
  • July 2020 export of shell eggs and products combined was up 5.2 percent from June 2020 to 791,000 case equivalents representing the theoretical production of 11.5 million hens.

                                         


 


Egg Week Review

09/08/2020

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, September 9th 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was up 0.3 million from the previous week at 311.6 million, with molted hens resuming production and pullets reaching maturity.
  • Shell inventory was up 4.1 percent after a 1.5 percent increase last week indicating decreased demand that will influence future prices. There is some evidence of a return in the food service sector as the economy cautiously reopens but the incidence rate of COVID-19 is increasing in some regions.
  • USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra-large, Large and Medium were unchanged to averages of 81.5, 79.5 and 55.5 cents per dozen respectively. Prices will continue to fluctuate in a narrow range as molted hens resume production and pullets commence lay unless offset by proportional increase in demand past the Labor Day weekend.
  • The price of breaking stock and checks in the Midwest were unchanged to averages of 46.0 and 36.5 cents per dozen respectively.

OVERVIEW

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on September 8th 2020 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large, Large and Mediums as delivered to DCs attained averages of 81.5, 79.5 and 55.5 cents per dozen. Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 5-Region blended nest-run, (excluding provisions for packing and transport) cost of 58.0 cents per dozen in August 2020. The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 

The September 8th 2020 USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 36) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.89 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending September 2nd. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week.  The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.80 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $0.95 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was 15 cents per dozen below the 3-year average and 15 cents per dozen below the corresponding week in 2019.

 


 


Albertsons to Administer Childhood Vaccinations

09/08/2020

Due to the COVID restrictions, parents are disinclined to take their children to pediatric practices to receive vaccines against a range of childhood diseases.  Albertsons company pharmacies are now equipped to administer vaccines including the seasonal influenza shot.  Albertsons operates 1,700 pharmacies and 2,250 grocery stores under diverse banners.  Appropriate health precautions will be followed to minimize the risk of contracting COVID when using in-store facilities.


 

Novavax Recombinant Vaccine Safe and Effective in Trial

09/08/2020

According to a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine,* the Novavax Recombinant Spike protein nanoparticle vaccine [NVX-CoV2373] against SARS-C0V-2 was shown to be safe and immunogenic.

 

The trial, supervised by the University of Maryland, comprised a randomized, placebo-controlled phase one-two trial involving 131 healthy adults.  In phase one, vaccination consisted of two intramuscular injections 21 days apart.  Eighty three participants received the vaccine with adjuvant and twenty five without adjuvant.  Twenty three participants received placebo.  No serious adverse events were noted other than mild reaction of approximately one to two days duration in participants receiving vaccine with adjuvant.  Addition of adjuvant enhanced immune response and induced T-helper cell response.  The administration of a vaccine with five micrograms adjuvanted nanoparticle vaccine responded with high ELISA assay IgG antibody and neutralization responses that exceeded convalescent serum from symptomatic COVID-19 patients.

 

The authors concluded that Novavax NVX-CoV2373 was safe and elicited antibody protection.

 

*Keech, C. et al Phase 1/2 Trial of SARS-CoV-2 Recombinant Spike Protein Nanoparticle Vaccine. The New England Journal of Medicine, September 2, 2020 DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa2026920


 

130th Anniversary of the Second Land Grant Universities Act

09/08/2020

September 1st marked the 130th anniversary of the Second Land Grant Universities Act that established agricultural and mechanical institutions in most states, then forming the Union.  In addition to the major land grant state universities, the 19 Historically Black Colleges have benefitted from the act.  The anniversary was a subject of a bipartisan resolution expressing the recognition by Congress of the 130th anniversary of the 1890 legislation.


 

Covid Mink

09/07/2020

EGG-NEWS has previously reported on the emergence of COVID-19 among  mink farms in Holland, Spain, and in the U.S.  The mink industry in Holland was scheduled to cease operations at the beginning of 2024 following passage of the Fur Animal Husbandry Act.  Given the extent of outbreaks and the possible effect on the community at large, the Ministries of Agriculture and Health have jointly ordered mink farms to end breeding programs by the end of March 2021.  The joint decision was made on the recommendations of the National Zoonotic Outbreak Management Team.

 

The decision to phase out mink farming was accompanied by a government  statement, “Despite the limited risk to public health at the moment it is desirable to stop the spread of the virus via mink farming.  It is undesirable that the virus continues to circulate on mink farms as there is a risk that in the long term this will lead to infections of employees and of people outside these farms”. There is also the danger that SARS-CoV-2 virus circulating in a non-human species held at high density may undergo mutations producing a more pathogenic variant.

Dutch PETA Protester
"Fur-animal Farms are Incubators of Disease"

Quarantined Mink Farm Holland

Since the recognition of COVID-19 in mink in July, one third of mink farms in Holland have been infected, especially in the high density provinces of Brabant and Limburg.  To date, 1.5 million mink have been culled on 43 farms.

 

The question arises as to what action state veterinary authorities and USDA-APHIS will take with regard to COVID-19 infection among U.S. mink farms.


 

Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award

09/07/2020

The 2020 Alltech Student Manuscript Award was awarded to Ms. Sarah Struthers, currently completing a doctoral degree in genetics and genomics at the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh.  The award is given to a student who was the senior author of an outstanding research manuscript published in either Poultry Science or the Journal of Applied Poultry Research.

The manuscript selected as the winning submission was based on the effect of beak tissue sloughing and post-treatment beak shape on pullets subjected to day-old infrared beak treatment.  This is an important contribution to the literature and justifies the use of this technology that has fortunately largely replaced hot-blade beak trimming.  Ms. Struthers earned a BS. degree in Animal Science from the University of Saskatchewan in 2015 and completed the Masters degree in 2016 on her thesis topic.

 

This is the ninth year of the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award  recognizing young leaders for their commitment to scientific innovation and publishing.


Ms. Sarah Struthers

 

 

 


 

Instacart Partners with 7-Eleven

09/07/2020

Instacart will initiate same-day service to more than 7,000 U.S. 7-Eleven stores following a successful trial launch in four metropolitan regions.

 

Customers of 7-Eleven will place orders online for grocery staples including eggs, snacks, prepared food, over-the-counter medication and where allowed alcohol.  Nilam Ganenthiran, President of 7-Eleven stated, “the partnership is a natural extension of everything we are doing now on the convenience store side.  We are bringing 7-Eleven 7,000 locations onto our platform so they can interact with customers in a more seamless way.” 

 

In a related matter, 7-Eleven will acquire 3,900 Speedway stores in a transaction valued at $21 billion.


 

AEB Promotes Eggs in School Meals

09/07/2020

Malissa Marsden was featured on First Taste directed to food service professionals involved in K-12 school feeding.  The program emphasized the use of hard-boiled and scrambled eggs.

 

The AEB partnered with Lauren Manaker RD who discussed the nutritional benefits of eggs in a Bobsugar article on foods that can help children focus on the stresses of a school day.  Lauren emphasized the value of dietary choline and lutein in brain and ocular function.  Hard-boiled eggs were positioned as a simple grab-and-go snack offering both convenience and economy.


 

David Elbel Retires from AEB Committee Service

09/07/2020

The American Egg Board honored David Elbel of MPS Egg Farm in Bryan, TX on the occasion of his retirement after fifteen years of service on AEB Committees.  He was recently the Chairman of the Nutrition Committee.  He received the Golden Omelet Pan reward in recognition of his efforts to promote the activities on the AEB.

 

He will be succeeded as Committee Chair by Karyn Kreher of Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs in Clarence, NY.


 

Campbell Soup Company Reports on Q4

09/07/2020

According to a company release on September 3rd, Campbell Soup Company (CPB) reported on the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2020 ending August 2nd.

 

For the quarter, the company posted net income of $86 million on sales of $2.108 billion with an earnings per share of $0.28. For the corresponding fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 ending July 28th, the company lost $8 million on revenue of $1.78 billion with a negative earnings per share of $(0.03).  For fiscal 2020 net earnings attained $1.628 billion on revenue of $8,691 billion with an EPS of $5.39.

 

For fiscal 2020, sales in the Meals and Beverages segment represented 53 percent of sales with an operating margin of 21.3 percent.  The Snacks segment represented 47 percent of sales with an operating margin of 13.6 percent.  For the most recently completed quarter, gross margin was 34.0 percent, lower than the 35.5 percent generated in Q4 of fiscal 2019.

 

In commenting on Q4 results, Mark Clouse, President and CEO stated, “our strong fourth-quarter and four-year fiscal 2020 performance was enabled by the extraordinary work of teams in a challenging operating environment.”  Subsequently, in the earnings call, Clouse commented that the company is focused on retaining shoppers who turned to Campbell Soup products during the stay-at-home phase of the COVID restrictions.  Clouse commented, “we all knew there would be a pivot evidently back to healthier recipes from a little more comfort-oriented initially during the pandemic. Campbell will reintroduce promotions as shoppers are now becoming more value conscious.

 

Campbell Soup has a market cap of $14.42 billion and has assets of $12.37 billion.  The company carries long-term debt of $6.73 billion.  CPB has traded over the past 52 weeks over a range of $40.70 to $57.54 with a 50-day moving average of $50.8.  CPB closed at $52.61 on Wednesday 2nd prior to the Q4 release.  Shares closed at $48.57 on Thursday September 3rd on a day in which the S&P declined by 3.5 percent.


 

Interview with Dean Hughson

09/07/2020

Dean has been a fixture in the egg-breaking segment of the U.S. egg industry for 43 years. He has worked extensively on processing, product quality and marketing of liquids and has traveled extensively as a consultant. He obtained his baccalaureate degree from the University of Missouri and studied for a Masters degree from the University of Nebraska in Omaha.  He joined Waldbaum Eggs in 1979. Although the company held 1.6 million hens at this time there were many challenges including sales. Dean was influenced during his early involvement in the egg industry by Dr. Milton Waldbaum and his partner Dan Gardner who along with other industry stalwarts served as mentors. An early experience was an extensive tour through Western Europe to observe egg production and processing.  During his tenure with Waldbaum Eggs, company revenue increased sixfold to 1989 when the enterprise was sold to Michael Foods.  Too young to retire, Dean worked with Papetti, Hennigsens and Rembrandt and has provided advice to customers in Canada, Mexico and Japan.  He lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona with his wife Yoly and follows the egg-breaking industry undertaking consulting commissions.

 

In early September EGG-NEWS had the opportunity to meet with Dean virtually and gain from his experience.

 

EGG-NEWS: There has been considerable consolidation in egg products over the past decade, how do you view this trend?

 

Dean Hughson: Effectively industry growth stalled a long time prior to COVID.  There has been limited innovation but with advances in efficiency through scale of operation.  This said, there is scope for smaller processors marketing specialty products.

 

EGG-NEWS: Currently the egg breaking segment of our industry is bearing the brunt of COVID-19 restrictions.  What do you foresee  for producers?

 

Dean Hughson:  Irrespective of whether we do or do not have a vaccine that is effective by the end of the year, restaurant traffic will not recover previous volume for a long time.  A combination of concern over COVID-19 and a recessionary environment will lead to a continued at-home cooking and eating.  A higher proportion of our eggs will be purchased and consumed in shell form.

 

EGG-NEWS: Could you contrast the 2015 HPAI crisis with the most recent COVID event with respect to the egg liquid industry?

 

Dean Hughson: Recovery from HPAI was a matter of time based on rearing replacement flocks and restoring production.  In the interim, imports maintained supply since there was no effect of the disease on the market  for liquids with soaring prices.  In contrast the COVID pandemic has unfortunately seriously depleted the market for egg liquids forcing shutdowns of plants, reduction in hen numbers, as evidenced by the monthly statistics from Iowa and the need to divert eggs that would have been broken into the retail shell market.

 

EGG-NEWS: How do you view the future of existing independent inline breakers?

 

Dean Hughson: Most of the companies have probably exhausted their working capital and will require support from intermediaries in the supply chain.  Banks are naturally disinclined to extend loans to any segment of egg production.

 

It is possible that there may be further consolidation in the industry, some may convert to shell eggs and yet others may cease production.  It is possible that a major agribusiness concern may integrate backwards into the live bird aspect of liquid production.

 

EGG-NEWS: What are your views on conversion to cage-free?

 

Dean Hughson: Only about five percent of egg liquid is derived from cage-free hens.  There does not appear to be a demand for the product in industry other than a few companies producing specialty foods containing egg liquids where either corporate policy or the demographics of customers dictate eggs from non-caged hens.  Given the state of the industry it is difficult to envisage investment of in excess of $35 per hen to convert from cages to aviary or alternative systems.

 

EGG-NEWS: Following the severe loss of hens to HPAI in 2015, prices of egg products soared creating an opportunity for substitutes.  Do you anticipate continued competition from alternatives?

 

Dean Hughson: It is extremely difficult to replace the functional properties of real eggs.  The American Egg Board has done an excellent job of promoting “real eggs” using a dedicated team and their contacts in the culinary area.  Customers are looking for clean labels and that presumes greater use of eggs as a major ingredient.

 

EGG-NEWS: How do you view foreign competition?

 

Dean Hughson: Providing the U.S. respects provision of the USMCA we will continue exporting to our neighbors, Mexico and Canada.  Exports to Japan have dwindled and we may be in danger of losing Hong Kong.  During the past decade, we have seen the rise of the Ukraine and India.  Both nations have an excess of shell eggs and have installed modern breaking and pasteurizing equipment.  Export of egg liquid is strongly dependent on trust.  Neither of the major upstart competitors have earned a reputation in the world market place.  In addition to the Ukraine and India there are many new installations in Southeast Asian nations that will be supplying local markets.

 

EGG-NEWS: Do you envisage any new technology or products?

 

Dean Hughson: Egg liquids are ingredients in a wide variety of foods.  There has really been no major advance in developing high-value specialty products.  Extraction of lysozymes appears to have faltered.  There is still considerable demand for egg white based on perceived health considerations.  With respect to technology the major manufacturers of whom there are few, have achieved incremental improvements in efficiency and yield but we are pushing the envelope.  Size provides economies of scale up to a point but events in the past few months have demonstrated the fragility of markets with larger producers disproportionately affected.

 

EGG-NEWS: Do you have any messages for your colleagues in the industry?

 

Dean Hughson: I have been extremely fortunate in being able to learn from industry veterans.  I am committed to extending my experience and knowledge to entrants to the field, mentoring and sharing both positive and negative experiences from my career.  The challenge for producers will be to select a level of production that is balanced by market demand.  There are always niches for specialty producers who can use egg liquids for innovative product applications.


 

Farmers Reliant on Direct Government Payments in 2020

09/05/2020

According to the USDA-ERS Farm Income and Wealth Statistics report issued on September 2nd, farm cash receipts will decline by 3.3 percent to $358.3 Billion in 2020.  Closure of packing plants associated with outbreaks of  COVID will reduce animal product sales by 8.1 percent ($14.3 Billion).  In contrast, crop revenue will be depressed by 1.0 percent compared to 2019.

 

Direct government farm payments, including federal farm program grants to farmers and ranchers, made by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation will amount $37.2 Billion, approximately $15 Billion above 2019.  The increase of 66 percent is due to COVID-19 relief.

 

Farm sector equity will increase by 0.7 percent to $2.68 Trillion and assets will increase by 1.1 percent to $3.11 Trillion.  On the debit side, farm debt will rise 3.6 percent to $433.8 Billion and real estate debt will rise 5.5 percent to $281.6 Billion.  Debt-to-asset levels for the agricultural sector have increased progressively since 2012 and will rise to 14.0 percent in 2020.  Working capital will decline 12.8 percent compared to 2019.


 

Supermarkets Removing One-Way Aisle Requirements

09/05/2020

Publix and Giant Company have removed decals and signeage requiring customers to follow one-way aisles during shopping.

 

The benefit from observing this precaution is questioned and in practice was impossible to enforce.  Customers are however practicing social distancing and together with masking these measures should limit aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in supermarkets.

 

Publix will however retain the one-way rule in jurisdictions where the precaution is mandated.

 


 

Fastener’s Resource Offers Solution for Corroded Troughs

09/05/2020

Fastener’s Resource can manufacture troughs and couplers for chain feeding systems in a variety of lengths.  Recently the company supplied a series of replacement lengths for a 14-house complex with corroded troughs leaking feed and contributing to wastage and mouse infestation.  For further information click on to the Fastener’s Resource logo on the right side of the welcome page.


 

Burger King Announces New Store Concept

09/04/2020

Restaurant Brands, International design group has developed a new concept for Burger King restaurant in response to COVID restrictions.  The prototype facility will provide conventional drive-through convenience with multiple lanes featuring digital boards.  Burger King has reverted to a 50’s drive-in approach to complement limited in-store dining allowing on-premises meals where restrictions are imposed. Customers will park in an area under canopies, place orders using a dedicated Burger King app and have food delivered to their cars. 

 

Alternatively, customers can dine-in on socially distanced tables located outside.  For pick-up, order can be placed online with meals retrieved from lockers located on the exterior of the restaurant.

 

It remains to be seen whether other QSR chains including McDonald’s will adopt similar changes that can be retrofitted to existing restaurants where space is available, or whether the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 will require erection of new stores on existing properties.


 

Widespread 2017 Outbreak of STEC at a Marine Corps. Camp

09/03/2020

In early October 2017, outbreaks of STEC (Shiga-toxin producing E.coli) strain O157:H7 infection were precipitated by consumption of undercooked meat. The case has been litigated for two years. Sodexo was the supplier of prepared food to two Marine Corps. installations in California including a training depot and Camp Pendleton in San Diego.  The outbreak involved 244 Marine recruits of whom thirty were hospitalized and fifteen suffered hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) resulting in renal failure and neural effects. Some patients will endure permanent disabilities.

 

The lawsuit contends that Sodexo employees and management should have been aware of the dangers of undercooking beef and were deficient in ensuring meals provided to service personnel were free of pathogens. Sodexo denies responsibility noting that a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control did not conclusively determine the source of the foodborne infection.

 

In a recent ruling, the U.S District Court for the Southern District of California allowed plaintiffs to sue for punitive damages. 


 

McDonald’s Sued by Minority Ex-Franchisees

09/03/2020

It appears that McDonald’s has more to worry about than attempting to claw back the magnanimous termination settlement with ex-CEO Steve Easterbrook occasioned by his extensive peccadillos.  The larger issue is the class-action lawsuit filed by approximately 50 former McDonald’s franchisees claiming racial discrimination.  The plaintiffs, the majority of whom are black claimed that they were forced to relinquish stores that were subjected to discriminatory business practices over a ten-year period.  Collectively they are seeking between $4 to $5 million per store in direct damages. With as many as 200 units involved, the $1 billion of potential exposure, without even considering punitive damages, eclipses the $34 million involved in the Easterbrook scandal.

The plaintiffs claim:

 

  • They were forced to franchise stores in inter-city neighborhoods with low sales volume and high security and insurance costs.

 

  • The company provided misleading financial information and coerced them to enter into franchise agreements.

 

  • Black franchisees were pressured to rebuild and remodel at a disproportionate rate compared to non-minority franchisees.

 

  • Black franchisees were denied the opportunity to purchase more profitable stores in neighborhoods with a higher income demographic.

 

  • Advertising and promotional initiatives were withheld from minority-owned locations.

Ethnic-centered McDonald's Advertizing

 

The plaintiffs claim that their average store revenue amounted to $2.0 million per year compared to an average of $2.7 million between 2011 and 2016.

 

In responding to the lawsuit McDonald’s Corporation noted, “These allegations fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization and as a partner to communities and small business owners around the world.”  The statement added, “Not only do we categorically deny the allegations that these franchisees were unable to succeed because of any form of discrimination by McDonald’s, we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to diversity and equal opportunity in the McDonald’s system including franchisees, suppliers and employees.”

 

Irrespective of the response by McDonald’s, it is evident that the chain numbered 377 black franchisees in 1998 compared to 186 at the present time, although the number of franchised restaurants doubled to the current level of 36,000. 

 

It is ironic that Don Thompson was the first black president and CEO of McDonald’s serving from 2012 through 2015 when franchisees were experiencing what is claimed were discriminatory practices. Plaintiffs will obviously enter into evidence previous conflicts between McDonald’s and black franchisees dating back to 1969.


 

Moba Introduces the Omnia XF2

09/02/2020

Moba has upgraded the XF ”Extended Food Safety” grader with innovations available in models capable of processing from 125 to 700 cases per hour.

The XF2 is equipped with an improved infeed system with a tubular infeed frame for ease of cleaning allowing complete wash down.

 

Moba installations are supported by a strong service network and training programs.  Remote diagnosis and iMoba monitoring are available.


 

Nielsen Update

09/02/2020

The American Egg Board circulates Nielsen data on retail egg sales each month.  The following points summarize volume and value data for the week ending July 11th 2020.

 

  • Retail egg sales in equivalent dozens were higher by 10.5 percent compared to the equivalent period in 2019.  Year-to-date the dollar value was 23.1 percent higher attributed to the price spike at the end of March and extending into April.
  • Per capita consumption for 2020 should attain 283.8 eggs, approximately 2.8 percent less than in 2019 according to the WASDE August 12th report.
  • Of 3.29 billion egg-equivalent dozens sold for the 52-week period ending July 11th, shell eggs represented 96.5 percent egg-alternative dozens, 2.6 percent in the form of liquid and frozen products and hardboiled eggs represented 0.9 percent.
  • Shell eggs increased 5.9 percent in volume and 7.0 percent in dollar value compared to the preceding 52-week period for the most recent week in the year-to-date series. Weekly sales amounted to 59 million dozen at an average unit price at retail of $2.50.  These values correspond to the eighth week of the year immediately preceding the COVID-19 period of intense grocery sales.
  • Year-to-date generic shell egg sales increased 1.9 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2019 but with a 23.8 percent increase in value. Cage-free eggs increased 19.5 percent in volume and 19.6 percent in value.  Organic eggs increased by 21.4 percent in volume and 25.4 percent in value. 
  • Conventional eggs represented 86.1 percent of sales, cage-free, 11.2 percent and organic, 2.8 percent.
  • Year-to-date private label sales represented 71.3 percent of the total non-generic eggs sold an 8.8 percent increase over 2019.  Private label eggs represented 59 percent of dollar value, an increase of 21.3 percent over 2019.  Branded eggs comprised 28.7 percent of the non-generic category, an increase of 14.7 percent over 2019.  The dollar value of branded eggs attained 41 percent of category value, 25.8 percent higher than in 2019.
  • In reviewing retail channels, supermarkets and groceries increased sales by 8.8 percent, outpaced by club stores and dollar stores that advanced in volume by 13.7 percent.

 

AEB Promotes QSR Breakfasts

09/02/2020

The American Egg Board has prepared an advisory to help rebuild the food service segment impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The instructional program includes advice on how to increase breakfast-time traffic.  According to the American Egg Board, success in this segment involves selection and preparation of suitable menu items, depiction of breakfast offerings on menus and boards, apps and how to promote breakfast items to restore morning traffic.

 

Since many white-collar workers are operating from home they no longer commute and accordingly are not buying breakfast at QSRs in route to their offices. 

 

The American Egg Board offers Incredible Egg Trends and the Eggsaminer.  These advisories include information on formulating foods with eggs and other natural ingredients.


 

Ninth Annual Young Leaders Under Thirty Program

09/02/2020

According to a release by USPOULTRY on September 1st, the International Production and Processing Expo “IPPE” will implement the ninth IPPE Annual Young Leaders Under Thirty Program.

 

The program will recognize professional leadership qualities and provide benefits from attending the IPPE.  Selected participants will receive free access to the Expo, complimentary hotel accommodations for two nights and admission to all education programs.

 

Applications must be submitted by October 16th from employees of companies affiliated with the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, The American Feed Industry Association or The North American Meat Institute.  Details of the program and the application are available by accessing www.ippexpo.org.


 

Comparison of Commodity Prices in China with CME Quotations.

09/02/2020

The relative prices expressed in US$ per short ton for corn, soybeans and soybean meal, September delivery, were downloaded from the Dalian Commodity Exchange website reflecting major contracts on September 2nd.  These values were compared with the spot price at close of trading on the CME indicated in parentheses. 

 

Commodity

Dalian CE

52-week range

CME 09/02

Corn

$298*

$249-$303

($127)

Soybeans

$576*

$482-$594

($321)

Soybean Meal

$385*

$347-$396

($303)

 

* short ton with exchange rate CNY 6.9=US$1

 

Soybean meal on the Dalian exchange increased by 7.2 percent or $26 per ton since mid-July despite release of soybean reserves from inventory to crushers.

Soybeans were up 41.5 percent or  $169 per ton.

Corn was up 8.6 percent or $23 per ton.

 

It is evident that due to the higher price of feed, producers of hogs, eggs and conventional broilers in China are at a disadvantage in production cost compared to their counterparts in the U.S. and Brazil.

 

Large eggs (57g) traded on the Dalian exchange at 35 cents per dozen.


 

Bunge Invests in Merit Functional Foods

09/01/2020

Bunge Ltd. A multinational commodity dealer and processor has invested $30 million in Merit Functional Foods, based in Winnipeg, Canada.  The company produces a range of plant-based protein ingredients used by manufacturers of alternatives to real meat.  Additional capacity will become operational in December to extract protein from canola seed.

 

Bunge is a major canola processor in Canada and will provide Merit with both technology and raw material.  Currently Merit produces Peazazz mixture and Peazaz protein in addition to Puratein canola protein and MeritPro, a blend of pea and canola derived protein.


 

Thai Union Group to Acquire Red Lobster Seafood Co.

09/01/2020

A consortium comprising the Seafood Alliance, an investor group and Thai Union Group PCL will acquire their remaining equity stake in Red Lobster Seafood Company from majority shareholder Golden Gate Capital. This entity acquired Red Lobster in 2014 from Darden restaurants in a $2.1 billion transaction. 

 

Kim Lopdrup, CEO of Red Lobster noted "we are thrilled to deepen our relationship with Thai Union, a long-term strategic supply to Red Lobster and an investment partner for the last four years.  He added "we are pleased that we have maintained off-premise sales at triple our previous crisis levels even after reopening the large majority of our dining rooms".

 

Thai Union based in Bangkok is the owner and operator of the Chicken of the Sea canned tuna brand 


 

Cal-Maine Foods Donates Eggs to Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

09/01/2020

On August 20th Cal-Maine Foods donated twelve pallets of fresh eggs corresponding to 430 cases to the food bank of Northeast Georgia.

 

Through August 24th, Cal-Maine Foods has donated more than 2,700 cases of eggs to other food banks in Georgia in addition to Lake City, FL. and Houston, TX.


 

Massachusetts Mandates Influenza Vaccination for School Children

09/01/2020

The Department of Public Health of the state of Massachusetts will required seasonal influenza vaccination for all children six-months and older to attend childcare, pre-school, K-12 and for colleges and universities.  Exemptions will only be available for medical and religious reasons.  It is anticipated that the addition of a seasonal influenza vaccine to the vaccination schedule required by Massachusetts will be permanent and will extend beyond the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 

Predictably the directive elicited protests including vaccine opponents and some parents concerned about the state abrogating their right to choose whether their children will or will not be vaccinated.

 

This action by the commonwealth of Massachusetts is a further reminder that egg producers should arrange to have farm and packing-plant personnel vaccinated with the now-available seasonal influenza vaccine.  Those over 65 years in age or with predisposing conditions should receive the high-titer influenza vaccine.  Preemptive vaccination will be essential to health as we pass through fall and into winter, given the prevalence of COVID-19.


 

Albertsons Named Retailer of the Year by Supermarket News

09/01/2020

Following their recent IPO, Albertsons was named retailer of the year for 2020 by Supermarket News. In announcing the award, Michael Browne, Executive Editor of Supermarket News stated, "there have been an unprecedented series of events this year that have impacted all of us and certainly the grocery industry".  He added "by heading into 2020 and through the turbulent year so far, Albertsons has endured because with its sales momentum, immediate strong response to COVID-19, efforts to promote diversity, equality and inclusion and introduction of technology". 

 

Under the leadership of CEO Vivek Sankaran who joined the company in 2019, Albertsons has expanded their Own Brands portfolio, built an omnichannel infrastructure and expanded the loyalty program. Sankaran stated, "with the tremendous challenges faced by everyone in the retail industry since the beginning of 2020 it is a remarkable time to be named Retailer of Year". 


Vivek Sankaran CEO Albertsons

 

Albertsons is ranked number four in sales and number twelve by number of stores on the Supermarket News 2020-list of the top seventy-five grocery retailers and wholesalers.  Counting all banners, Albertsons has 2,252 food and drug stores in 34 states and operates 1,726 pharmacies, 402 fuel locations and 23 distribution centers.


 

Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Intended to Reduce STEC Foodborne Infection

09/01/2020

Four significant documented outbreaks of E.coli O157:H7 STEC occurred in the U.S. between 2017 and 2019 with over 500 diagnosed cases and a number of fatalities. The advisory boards of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) involving California and Arizona growers have since developed safety measures to reduce the probability of foodborne infection  with STEC associated with leafy greens.

 

Since water contaminated with fecal material of bovine origin from CAFOs is regarded as the source of E.coli, all affiliated producers, the CDC and state university extension advisors have concentrated on irrigation water.  The LGMA board determined that any water from an open source, such as a canal or reservoir, applied through overhead application, must be treated to eliminate pathogens at least three weeks before harvest.  The regulations include monitoring of water with samples collected through the irrigation system. Furrow-irrigation should no longer allow water to come into contact with an edible portion of a plant.  Best practices for cleaning harvest equipment and containers will be followed. Portable bathroom facilities for field workers must be available.

 

The recommendations developed by the LGMA Board will be approved by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Association will then commence educating members on compliance with new standards of operation.

 

The measures suggested relate mainly to contamination in the field.  There is as yet no method of inactivating STEC on leafy greens that may have been subjected to E.coli contamination during cultivation and harvest.  Land Grant universities are working on possible treatments, including sprays and immersion. Ultimately some form of physical decontamination, possibly in the form of electron beam treatment may be developed providing that the organoleptic properties of leafy greens are not affected.

 


 

FoodMaxx Emphasizes Low Cost

09/01/2020

The FoodMaxx banner of the Save Mart company chain is emphasizing low cost in response to consumer trends impacted by COVID-19 induced recession and unemployment.  FoodMaxx promotes Wall of Value offers within stores for both daily essential products and their private brands.  Shoppers can also take advantage of a FoodMaxx mobile app to download digital coupons and to learn of special offers. 

 

The FoodMaxx chain of 53 stores applies aggressive buying programs, reducing overhead in store operations and local sourcing.  In many respects FoodMaxx is employing a similar strategy to the deep discounters, such as Aldi, with a concentration on private brands, warehouse ambiance and competitive pricing.


 

H-E-B Opens Food Hall in New Austin Store

09/01/2020

Main Streat by H-E-B will comprise the food hall concept inside a new Austin, TX. supermarket in the Mueller location. The food hall includes six restaurants including Roots Chicken Shack, True Texas BBQ, Calle Taqueria, Umai Japanese Grill, and the Meltery and Bar at Mueller.

 

Main Streat operates from 11h00 to 21h00 Monday to Thursday with extended weekend hours.  The facility also provides takeout, limited capacity dining, an outdoor patio and offers free delivery.

 

The concept was obviously developed before COVID restrictions were imposed, although Texas  is less strict compared to other states and communities.  It is noted that the Cary, NC store opened by Wegman’s in July as a “destination supermarket” concept also incorporates an in-store dining area. Unfortunately this is not in operation due to state and local COVID restrictions.


 

CTB Plays Host to Secretary of Agriculture

09/01/2020

On August 21st, CTB in Millford, IN was host to Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue who held an Indiana agriculture and manufacturing Town Hall at the venue.  The invitation-only meeting was arranged jointly by CTB and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.  Victor A. Mancinelli, Chairman and CEO of CTB noted, “The Town Hall meeting was a unique opportunity for us to promote discussions on issues and policies involving Indiana agriculture.”  He added, “We are grateful for the opportunity to provide direct feedback to federal and state policymakers.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Holds Town Hall Meeting at CTB in Milford

 

Prior to the Town Hall meeting, Dr. Perdue toured the CTB Grain Systems manufacturing plant observing that he grew up on a dairy farm in Georgia equipped with Brock bins that he regarded as “a very reliable product.”

 

The Town Hall was attended by Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Bruce Kettler, Director of the Department of Agriculture for the State of Indiana.


 

Dutch Government Rescinds Nitrogen Emission Regulation

09/01/2020

According to USDA GAIN report NL2020-0041 dated August 27th the Government of the Netherlands has rescinded far-reaching proposals to limit nitrogen release by the dairy industry.  The initiative would have effectively reduced the efficiency of milk production to a level inconsistent with profitability and resulted in severe and extensive impacts on agriculture and the food industry.

 

Following extensive protests, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Quality has rescinded the regulations relating to protein content of dairy concentrates.  The action was justified by research conducted by Wageningen University that demonstrated that proposed restrictions would not have made a significant impact on nitrogen emission.


 

New Assay Capability Installed by FSNS

08/31/2020

In January FSNS opened a new ICP (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) testing lab with state-of-the-art instrumentation for the analysis of both heavy metals by ICP-MS and quantitative metals by ICP-OES.  This lab was specifically designed to further expand the ability of FSNS to meet low-level (California Prop #65) detection limits for heavy metals and allow for rapid turnaround of results to support immediate client needs.

 

Recently FSNS completed their validation of an LCMS/MS method for low-level detection of the beta agonist Ractopamine.  This new method aligns with the USDA CLG-AGON1.10 method and allows quantification of Ractopamine well below the action level of 1.0 ppb.  FSNS is currently in the AMS approval process and looks forward to supporting testing needs for both the beef and pork industry.

 

FSNS successfully completed their A2LA ISO 1705:2005 audit for the San Antonio chemistry lab in June.  As part of this audit, FSNS extended their accreditation scope to include multiple new methods. Vitamin D, protein by combustion, beta carotene, heavy metal analysis and water activity are a few of the added assays.

 

FSNS emphasizes food safety, quality, and customer needs in all decisions concerning improved technology to continue as a trusted partner in food safety.  The chemistry department is able to conduct nutritional, allergen, and contaminant assays for a variety of products including raw ingredients, meats, vegetables, nutraceuticals and finished products.


 

USDA to Extend School Meals Program

08/31/2020

On August 31st in a USDA press release, Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA is to extend several flexibilities to allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children through December 31st 2020. This decision will help ensure that children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA is using the funding appropriated by Congress in accordance with the mission of the Department. 

 


Dr. Sonny Perdue Sec. Agriculture administering Congressional Mandate

Secretary Perdue commented, “as our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical that our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA provided unprecedented help to schools to feed children through school meal programs. Today, we are extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, both legally and financially,” Perdue added “we appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professionals year-in and year- out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation. This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure that meals are reaching all children – whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually – so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever-changing learning environments.”

 

  

Lindsay Aguilar, Director of Food Services for Tucson, AZ. Unified School District,  endorsed the USDA decision stating “this announcement brings a huge relief to our school meal program and the community we serve.” She added “many of our families who might not qualify for free meals are still going through a tough time and are worried about how to keep food on the table. Now their children will have one less thing to worry about as they adjust to evolving in-school and remote learning scenarios. These waivers also eliminate a massive administrative burden for our school nutrition staff, allowing them to focus on feeding children.” 


 

Recommended Separation Between Adjacent Buildings on Egg Production Complexes

08/31/2020

In an August 7th circular distributed by UEP, Palomar Insurance emphasized the need for adequate separation of building to limit losses in the event of fire. Conventionally the standard separation has been 50 feet. This was based on single-level houses with flocks of approximately 170,000 birds.


Close proximity of seven multi-tier houses

With the trend to aviary housing, many structures are four levels high requiring greater separation.  Currently non-combustible houses with more than 150,000 layers and especially those are more than one level high should have a 75 foot separation.  Combustible frame houses with more than 250,000 hens and three or more levels high require 100 foot separation.

 

Palomar advises planners of new complexes or intending to expand through additions and conversions to consult a professional engineer and an insurance authority.  Requests can be forwarded to the Palomar Egg Team eggs@palomarins.com


 

UEP Area Briefings

08/31/2020

The August 18th – 19th Area briefings were held this year in virtual format. 

 

The important topics reviewed comprised:-

  • Roundtable for sustainable poultry and egg production – Chad Gregory, UEP President and CEO discussed the UEP strategic priorities including:
  • Market transparency
  • Industry collaboration and communications
  • Sustainability
  • Government affairs
 
  • The UEP is a member of the Roundtable and has contributed to the framework that will be completed by the end of 2021.
  • Oscar Garrison Senior Vice-president for Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs reviewed the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program that now incorporates shell eggs.
  • Dr. Larry Sadler, VP of Animal Welfare provided an overview of state laws relating to cage-free housing and certification audits.

Chad Gregory

 

Eggs As A First Food Toolkit Is Now Available

08/30/2020

Promote “Eggs As A First Food” across your social media channels and websites. The toolkit, found HERE, provides turnkey assets leveraging the expertise of AEB’s Egg Nutrition Center. Dr. Mickey Rubin is also available for media interviews. Questions? Please contact Ashley Richardson.


 

Renewable Fuels Association Request EPA Action on RFS

08/30/2020

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) recently addressed a letter to Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting action on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Five outstanding issues that are of concern to the RFA include:-

 

  • Implementing the Tenth Circuit Court decision on refinery exemptions
  • Denying all 67 pending gap-year refinery exemption waiver petitions
  • Deciding if 31 pending petitions for 2019 and 2020 comply with the Tenth Circuit Court criteria
  • Publishing the proposed rule for 2021 renewable volume obligations
  • Restoring the 500-million-gallon renewable fuel volume waived from the statutory 2016 RFS requirement

The RFA reminded EPA that the Agency is obligated to rule on petitions within a ninety-day period.  With all small refinery petitions considered, the EPA has the latitude to remove 4.6 billion gallons of blending requirements.  The Renewable Fuels Association also reminded EPA of the legal requirement to finalize the 2021 RVO by the end of November in accordance with previous commitments by the Agency.


RFS with cellulosic ethanol as wishful thinking

 

Bayer Glyphosate Settlement Delayed

08/30/2020

Previously news media have reported on the possible unraveling of the proposed $11 billion settlement between Bayer AG and plaintiffs claiming that glyphosate in Roundup was responsible for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Bayer AG the acquirer of Monsanto, apparently agreed to settle the bulk of 125,000 cases in a court-sanctioned settlement. A proportion of the class are holdouts who wish to pursue jury trials based on the adverse verdicts against Bayer in three cases in California involving bellwether plaintiffs.  Although attorneys for Bayer characterized the delay in settlement as a "speed bump and a slight hiccup", there are concerns that a settlement involving at least 30,000 plaintiffs may evaporate. 

 

An important part of this settlement is the offer to create a trust fund for future claimants that will inevitably emerge.  Parallels between the alleged carcinogenesis of glyphosate have close similarities to the extended litigation over asbestos. This group of industrial products was clearly shown to be responsible for mesothelioma and pulmonary asbestosis from the mid 1970s onwards. Due to the protracted latent period with asbestos-related pathology the trust fund for future cases was an important component of the ultimate settlement requiring federal funding. A similar situation may pertain with glyphosate. The presiding U.S. District Judge, Vince Chhabria has indicated that he is still willing to try additional cases and is unlikely to approve the part of the settlement dealing with future claims. 

 

Between glyphosate and dicamba and it is evident that the $163 billion purchase of Monsanto in 2018 was the worst deal of the century, impacting Bayer AG shareholders and calling into question the judgment of the CEO Werner Baumann.


 

COVID-19 Emerges in California Central Valley

08/30/2020

The Centers for Disease Control are investigating an extensive outbreak of COVID-19 in the Primex plant packing pistachios located near Wasco in Kern County, CA.

 

According to state records, the incidence rate of COVID-19 in Kern County averaged 56 cases per 100,000 people during the first two weeks of August, the highest in any county in California.  Twenty-five thousand cases have been recorded in the county with 204 fatalities among a population of 900,000.  Statewide, there have been 601,000 cases of COVID-19 in California with 11,000 fatalities.

 

Of the known cases in Kern County, 72 percent are Latinos who comprise 55 percent of the population. Within the state, 60 percent of those testing positive are Latinos compared to their 39 percent of the California population.

 

Statistics relating to Latinos are probably under-estimated given that immigrant workers including a proportion of those who are undocumented do not seek medical assistance. According to the United Farm Workers of America agricultural workers are disinclined to report symptoms to their employers for fear of termination or loosing pay.

 

Wasco is the location of Central Valley Eggs, a two million-hen complex.  There is also a California Department of Corrections prison on the outskirts of the City.  The numbers of cases within the prison or in the egg production complex are unknown. The incidence rate in the prison compared to the Primex plant could provide information on the effectiveness of methods of prevention in agricultural facilities and to establish whether there is any correlation between workplace and accommodation.  In the case of the inmates, infection might be associated with the constant transfer of prisoners and also introduction of infection by prison staff.


 

Amazon Unveils Woodland Hills, CA. Supermarket

08/29/2020

The long-awaited Amazon full-service store has partly opened to limited patronage.  The Woodland Hills, CA. facility is 35,000 square foot in extent and according to Jeff Helbling, Vice-president of Amazon Fresh will offer a range of products equivalent to a typical full-service grocery store.

 

Technology to be integrated into the store will include the Amazon Dash Cart and Alexa virtual assistance from devices scattered through the store.  It is not known whether the "Just Walk Out" no-cashier technology in use at Amazon Go convenience stores will be installed in the Woodland Hills location. It is evident that Amazon is testing alternative technologies and is using Woodland Hills as a test bed to evaluate and refine alternative modalities and to gauge consumer responses. 

 

The questions of interest are whether Amazon will expand the concept and the location of additional stores.  As yet, Amazon has not announced a banner for their large-store innovation despite planning for operations in Naperville, IL. in addition to Oak Lawn and Schaumburg in metropolitan Chicago.  Amazon has apparently acquired Fairway Markets in New Jersey but there is no indication of whether they will be repurposed as Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market or an alternative.


 

Restaurant Patronage Improving

08/29/2020

The NPD Group report that customer transactions at QSRs were down nine percent for the week ending August 16th compared to the corresponding week in 2019.  The NPD survey represents 53 percent of establishments in the U.S. including QSRs, fast casual and mid-scale restaurants.

 

QSRs were least affected by COVID-19, posting an eight percent reduction for the week compared to corresponding period in 2019.  In contrast, full-service chain restaurants recorded a 19 percent decline in transactions compared to 2019.

 

David Portalatin of NPD stated, "although transactions have fallen and moved into single-digits it is a positive sign for the U.S. restaurant industry".  He added " we are stuck in neutral for now but I firmly believe there is still a lot of upside recovery for restaurants". 

 

An increase in traffic is a key indicator of recovery of the food service sector, critical to restoring the pre-COVID balance between the egg-breaking and shell-egg sectors of the industry.


 

Consumers Still Favor Personal Shopping at Supermarkets

08/29/2020

The Manifest recently conducted a survey on 500 U.S. adults concerning patterns in grocery purchases and use of online ordering and delivery. Of those surveyed, 62 percent favored in- person buying groceries in a store.  Approximately one quarter of respondents used either online grocery delivery or curbside pickup.

 

Consumers surveyed acknowledged that they are visiting supermarkets at less frequent intervals and purchasing more of their requirements during fewer transactions.  Expenditures on meals outside the home have been transferred to purchase of groceries for home dining.

 

The Manifest reported that 12 percent of respondents used grocery delivery services since the onset of the COVID pandemic.  Justifications include saving in time (52 percent of those surveyed); safety (11 percent) and avoiding driving and parking (10 percent).

 

In determining negative aspects of online ordering and delivery, expense was cited as the major deterrent by 22 percent of respondents followed by inferior quality of produce (17 percent) and the remainder attributed to service issues.

 

The Manifest concluded that the E-commerce channel is building loyalty and will be a regular component of grocery purchases over the long-term. Although the immediate challenge will be to resolve issues relating to service, the cost factor appears insurmountable. This is especially the case if state legislatures on both coasts require delivery personnel to be classified as employees wit benefits and not as currently independent contractors.


 

STOP PRESS

08/27/2020

Hurricane Lara

 

EGG-NEWS extends sympathy to those in the wake of Laura that made landfall as a Force-4 hurricane in western Louisiana in the early hours of August 27th and is now moving in a northwest arc through Arkansas and Mississippi towards the Carolinas with sharply decreasing wind velocity. Initial reports suggest heavy damage within 50 miles of the coast but no direct impact on broiler or egg production facilities. Additional reports will be posted when damage assessments have been completed


 

Lidl U.S. Plans 50-Store Expansion

08/26/2020

After a slow start following entry to the U.S. market in mid-2017, Lidl now operates 103 stores including the 27 acquired from Best Market in 2019.

 

The company has announced that it will invest more than $500 million in 50 new stores in a nine-state region extending southward from Delaware to Georgia with a concentration in high- density suburban areas.  New Jersey and Maryland will be the location of ten stores each with seven in Virginia and six each in New York and Georgia.


 

GI-OVO Appoints U.S. Sales Manager for EggsCargo® System

08/26/2020

GI-OVO has appointed Charles Bursk, as Senior Sales Manager for the United States.  He will cooperate with Bert van Dijk in promoting the EggsCargo System® and the HatchCargo® system that are now manufactured in Findlay, OH. 

 

Charles has extensive experience in the poultry business that will be applied in the promotion of GI-OVO products.  He will operate from his base in Allegan, MI. and can be contacted at <charles@gi-ovo.com>.


 

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Extended

08/26/2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the Farmers to Families Food Box Program through the end of October with an additional $1 billion in funding.

Eggs and egg products are now eligible for inclusion in boxes.

 

The program devised by USDA Secretary Dr. Sonny Perdue was originally authorized at $3 billion to be expended from mid-May through the end of August.  The first round of distribution from mid-May to the end of June achieved distribution of 36 million food boxes with an additional 35 million from July 1st to August 24th.

 

Boxes of fresh produce, dairy and meat have been distributed through 10,000 food banks and non-profit organizations.  This has alleviated hunger and created jobs through the entire food chain. 

 

The program has however come under criticism from Democratic members of the House based on questions of transparency, selection of contractors and record keeping.  It must however be remembered that this was an emergency program implemented in response to a pressing need to address hunger among lower income demographics. The program has created a channel to distribute vegetables and agricultural products that would otherwise have been wasted.


 

Pro Farmer Tour Estimates Yields for Corn and Soybeans

08/25/2020

The week-long Pro Farmer tour across seven states has established that corn and soy yields will be slightly lower than the USDA projections incorporated into the August 12th WASDE report #603. Pro Farmer lowered the soy estimate by 1.9 percent to 52.5 bushels per acre representing a harvest of 4.36 billion bushels.  Corn was down 2.4 percent to 177.5 bushels per acre but still contributing to a near record crop of 14.82 billion bushels.  Notwithstanding the reductions in yield, the 2020 harvests will be large with unit prices at or below cost of production for most small and intermediate-sized farmers. Factors contributing to low price include reduced demand attributed to COVID-19 restrictions and lower exports to China then were anticipated. 

 

Farmers have benefited from the CFAP although there are questions as to the fairness of the distribution of approximately $16 billion across livestock and crop production.  Some farmers will also be reimbursed by insurance following the severe derecho that caused extensive damage on August 10th.  Requirements for CFAP disbursements will be amended specifically with regard to claimants "managing farms".  Regulations will require at least 500 hours of actual management annually or 25 percent of all management work to be eligible.


 

Sprouts Promoting New Where Goodness Grows Image

08/25/2020

CEO Jack Sinclair has introduced the Sprouts, Where Goodness Grows strategy for the company.  Sinclair intends to reimage the chain as a promoter of fresh food and health, moving away from pricing as a major determinant of image.

 

Sinclair noted "we are going to be telling a lot of stories behind the reality of the products that we have in our stores in terms of differentiation, in terms of our fresh produce offer, in terms of our bulk offer, in terms of our vitamins and lot of the exciting things we've got in our grocery business that are different".  It is considered paradoxical that Sprouts, intent on attracting a more loyal and presumably profitable customer base does not offer a loyalty card.

The appointment of Gil Phipps, previously responsible for development and promotion of the Simple Truth initiated by Kroger suggests the introduction of more Sprouts house brands.


 

Kroger Health to Expand COVID-19 Testing

08/25/2020

Kroger has announced that more than 220 Little Clinic locations will conduct COVID-19 sample gathering (NOT testing).  This initiative expands the take-home sampling kits available for Kroger employees.

 

Since the clinics and take-home kits are merely for harvesting swabs, with PCR tests performed at designated laboratories, the entire exercise is useless unless results are obtained within two days to allow for quarantine and tracing of contacts.  If Kroger can achieve a 48-hour turn around for results, the program will be of benefit. If the program cannot provide results expeditiously the entire activity of sampling and assay will be an exercise in collecting swabs and "going through the motions" without any direct epidemiologic benefit.


 

Chr. Hansen Releases 2025 Strategy Statement

08/25/2020

According to an August 24th release, Chr. Hansen Holding A/S of Denmark will base growth through 2025 on the twin streams of Food-cultures and Enzymes and on Health and Nutrition.  The company anticipates improving EBITDA and ROI through investment in facilities and technology to achieve gains and efficiency and scale of operation. Additional benefits will accrue from acquisitions that offer synergies. 

 

In commenting on the strategic plan, Mauricio Graber, CEO noted "Chr. Hansen has undertaken a tremendous journey since its start as an ingredient supplier to the dairy industry".  He added "we will continue to pioneer new microbial science to improve food and health for a more sustainable future.  We are committed to continuing to leverage the Power of Good Bacteria™ as reflected in our newly defined purpose to grow a better world but naturally”.


 

Salmonella Outbreak Attributed to Organic Peaches

08/24/2020

According to a U.S. FDA release on August 21st the CDC has identified peaches supplied by Wawona Packing Company LLC of Fresno, CA. as the vehicle involved in the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis.

 

As of August 19th CDC reported 68 cases in nine states with 14 hospitalizations, although implicated peaches were distributed to 35 states. Canada has also documented confirmed cases.  Affected batches packed from June 1st have been recalled as a precaution but with a relatively short shelf life contaminated peaches have mostly been consumed or discarded up to the beginning of August.

As with other Salmonella infections involving basic foods recala have been extended to derived products including peah salsa and gift baskets containing peaches.

This outbreak will be included in the annual CDC report on salmonellosis in 2020 and because S.Enteritidis was the causal serovar cases attributed to peaches will emphasize the prevalence of SE and indirectly reflect adversely on the egg industry or be used maliciously by opponents of intensive egg production.

 The fact that the affected peaches were certified as organic confirms that organic status is no guarantee of food safety.

 

 


 

DoorDash Extends Services to Grocery Delivery

08/24/2020

DoorDash has launched their DashPass service to deliver groceries to homes in as little as an hour depending on locality.  DashPass will incur a $10 per month subscription service allowing unlimited free deliveries and reduced service fees for orders of at least $12.  Individual stand- alone orders will be delivered at a cost of $4.

 

DoorDash has extended services from meal delivery based on their "last-mile" experience.  Supermarkets and grocery stores will pack orders with DoorDash responsible for delivery.  DoorDash previously interacted with Walmart, Albertsons and Hy-Vee with a home delivery service involving customers placing orders on store apps with DoorDash responsible for transport.

 

 DoorDash will launch in urban California markets in cooperation with Smart & Final; in Midwestern urban markets in association with Meijer and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. It is intended to initiate deliveries from Hy-Vee in the Midwest and New York City. DoorDash operates in 4,000 cities in all fifty states of the U.S. in addition to Canada and Australia.


 

CDC Warning Over Methanol in Hand Sanitizer

08/24/2020

The May-June 2020 edition of the CDC MMWR 69:1070, released on August 14th documents toxicity and mortality as a result of ingestion of hand sanitizer containing methanol.  Fifteen cases were documented from Arizona and New Mexico with four fatalities.  Survivors of methanol toxicity suffered visual impairment.  A number of hand sanitizers have been released on to the market containing unacceptable levels of methanol in place of isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.  Children may be at risk of toxicity associated with absorption of methanol through the skin.

 

Dr. Stephen G. Baum, Contributing Editor to the New England Journal of Medicine commenting on the MMWR report alluded to the Administration in that the problem of intoxication may relate to "suggestions that have been made to the public that ingesting of products intended for only surface use might ward off SARS-CoV-2 infection".


 

USAPEEC Hosted Promotional Webinar in the Dominican Republic

08/24/2020

Funded by the American Egg Board, the USAPEEC hosted a webinar for attendees at the Expo Gastronomica held in the Dominican Republic on August 26th. 

 

The webinar promoted quality of U.S. egg products and was directed to the bakery, restaurant and hotel sectors.


 

U.K. to Dismantle Public Health England

08/23/2020

Public Health England analogous to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to be restructured.  A new agency The National Institute for Health Protection will be formed.  This institute will absorb the National Health Test and Trace Program previously managed by Public Health England.

 

The decision by the Conservative government has been extensively criticized. The change was based on the suboptimal performance of the Agency during the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic with failures in both testing and tracing.

 

There is always concern when an agency is dismantled, and scientist and administrators are reassigned to new areas with different responsibilities but requiring the same skill set and experience.

 

It is hoped that prior to our subsequent to the November election there will be no radical changes in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Some announcements reflecting adversely on the image and reputation of the Agency are only partly justified. These were based on the slow response to the escalating incidence rate and mortality attributed to delays in testing and isolation.  It is inopportune at this time to access the strengths and weaknesses of CDC with the COVID pandemic. The CDC is regarded as the premier health investigation agency in the world and serves as the prototype for many nations.  Unfortunately, COVID has become a highly political and bipartisan issue to the detriment of applying science-based approaches to controlling the pandemic.


 

NPIP Announces Appointment of Compartmentalization Coordinator

08/23/2020

Dr. Elena Behnke, Senior Coordinator of the National Poultry Improvement Plan has announced the appointment of Dr. Savannah Thomas as the compartmentalization Coordinator in the Veterinary Medical Office.

 

Dr. Thomas earned a baccalaureate degree in Avian Biology and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia and was a 2017 recipient of an AAAP Foundation Poultry scholarship.


Dr Savannah Thomas

 

Dr. Thomas has experience in commercial poultry production and regulatory medicine having interned with NPIP and participated in the development of the compartmentalization program as a veterinary student.

 

In her new position Dr. Thomas will manage aspects of the NPIP compartmentalization program working with primary breeder companies in the U.S. and will supervise a team of certified compartmentalization auditors.  She can be contacted at savannah.thomas@npip.gov


 

Postal Delays Result in Chick Mortality

08/23/2020

Small-scale and backyard egg producers are complaining over transport mortality in chicks shipped by small specialist hatcheries using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).  The agency has come under criticism for delays following a change in management that has emphasized reduction in cost.

 

Dr. Robin Ganzert President and CEO of the American Humane Association emphasized the need for efficiency, speed and humane handling of chicks.  The extent of the problem of chick mortality was highlighted in an edition of the Portland Press Herald. The New York Times referred to the problem as “the chicks in the mail”. 

The law of unintended consequences has resulted in the USPS serving as an agent to suppress Salmonellosis.


 

International Poultry Welfare Alliance Appoints New Leadership for 2020-2021

08/23/2020

The International Poultry Welfare Alliance has elected officers for the coming term. Those appointed include Andrew Gomer of Nova-Tech Engineering as Chairperson for 2021; Dr. Ken Opengart, Tyson Foods, as Vice Chair; Angela Baysinger of Merck Animal Health, as Secretary and Dr. Bernie Beckman Hy-Line North America, as Director at Large. 

 

The Alliance also approved the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan defining goals and activities over the coming three years.


 




























































































































































































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