Egg Industry News

Whole Foods Testing Convenience Store Concept in New York City


In a continuing effort to capture sales and establish an optimal model, Whole Foods Market has developed a convenience store concept termed Whole Foods Market Daily Shop. The test of the concept is located adjacent to a Whole Foods store in Chelsea New York City. True to the Whole Foods DNA, the Market Daily Shop will offer organic products and local items. The store includes a fresh food section, juices and pastry, sandwiches, soups and salads. Customers can order and consume items in store. This appears to be a hybrid convenience store/QSR/mini-market appealing to a high-income urban demographic.


Sparboe Foods Sells Iowa Operation


In a May 17th release, Sparboe Foods announced the sale of its New Hampton, IA plant to Deb El Food Products. Sparboe will continue to operate shell egg production and packing in their home base of Minnesota in addition to complexes in Iowa and Colorado.

Beth Schnell, CEO of Sparboe thanked New Hampton employees for years of dedication and service emphasizing that her company will focus on the shell egg business.

Elliot Gibber, president and CEO of Deb El Food Products stated “This purchase will position us to significantly accelerate our progress in achieving our vision of being a world-class and trusted supplier of high-quality egg products”. Deb El operates processing facilities in New Jersey and New York.


Heat Treatment to Decontaminate Poultry Houses


Dr. E. R. Benson of the University of Delaware conducted a study on decontamination of poultry houses using heat. The project #F073 was funded by the USPOULTRY Foundation with a grant from Peco Foods. A Salmonella serotype and LaSota strain of Newcastle disease were used as indicator organisms. Heat treatment was applied for at least three continuous days at temperatures ranging from 100 to 120 F.

The study demonstrated that to be effective, heat treatment should be applied to houses only after removal of carcasses and litter since it was not possible to consistently attain temperatures which inactivated Newcastle disease virus in the presence of four inches of litter.

Maintaining the required temperature for at least three continuous days during winter may represent a problem in other than well-insulated and sealed buildings. Given that both Newcastle disease and avian influenza are more prevalent during winter months, to be effective, heat treatment will require considerable energy input even in sealed houses under optimal conditions. 

To evaluate the effectiveness of heat treatment following depopulation of an infected flock, appropriate sampling and laboratory assay will be required to confirm that pathogens have been inactivated before re-stocking.


Whole Foods to Reduce Plastic Packaging


Effective July 2019, Whole Foods Market will eliminate plastic straws and replace PET rotisserie chicken containers in stores in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. It is expected that these changes will reduce plastic destined for disposal by 400 tons annually.

A. C. Gallo, president and Chief Merchandising Officer for Whole Foods Market stated “We recognize that single-use plastics were a concern for many of our customers, team members and suppliers and we are proud of changes in packaging and we will continue to look for additional opportunities to further reduce plastic across our stores”. Previously Whole Foods Market eliminated Styrofoam meat trays and disposable plastic grocery bags at checkout counters.


Iowa State Awarded Recruiting Grant


The USPOULTRY Foundation awarded a $7,000 student recruiting grant to Iowa State University, made possible in part by a gift from West Liberty Foods. The USPOULTRY Foundation has awarded recruiting grants totaling $328,000 for the 2018-2019 school year to 34 colleges and universities with either a poultry science department or a poultry studies program.

The Foundation has supported student recruiting since 1994 enabling colleges and universities to attract students who will enter the poultry industry.


CDC Documents Salmonella Outbreaks from Backyard Chickens


In a May 16th release, the CDC reported on incident cases of salmonellosis in owners of backyard chicken flocks. The report noted 52 cases in 21 states with five hospitalizations. A quarter of the cases involved children under five years of age. The most likely vehicles of infection were day- old chicks and a few ducklings purchased from agricultural stores and mail-order hatcheries.

The CDC issued the usual precautions regarding preventing direct contact with live poultry, confining birds to the exterior of a home and handwashing after handling chicks. Although these common sense precautions will reduce the possibility of infection, chicks and duckling are usually brooded inside a home and are handled by children. The increase in incidence rate of chick and duckling-derived salmonellosis is attributed to injudicious purchase over Easter.


Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue Visited Japan and South Korea


In a mid-May promotional trip to Japan and South Korea, Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Sonny Perdue met with his counterparts to discuss exports of U.S. farm products. The meetings followed discussions on trade issues and will continue with preparations for the proposed meeting between Prime Minister Abe of Japan and the President.

The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement was reviewed. A specific topic included the application of science-based decision-making criteria in establishing policy following outbreaks of catastrophic diseases.

The USAPEEC arranged receptions for Dr. Perdue in both nations.


Zoetis Placed on Fortune 500 List


The 65th Annual Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies ranked by total revenues includes Zoetis for the first time ranking #487. The threshold for inclusion on the list is $5.6 billion in revenue.

Zoetis has a market capitalization of $49 billion and traded over a range of $78.90 to $103.97 over the past 52-weeks. The Company has a trailing 12-month operating margin of 31.4 percent and a net profit margin of 23.5 percent.  For the first quarter of FY 2019 Zoetis posted a net income of $312 million on sales of $1.455 Billion


Alltech Appoints Senior Managers


Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech Inc., has announced a series of senior management appointments. In the Alltech release, Dr. Lyons stated “The depth of experience and industry know-how of the four new team members is the passion they share for advancing agriculture, empowering our customers and delivering on our shared vision of a planet of plenty”. Lyons added “They have an authentic connection to our company culture and most importantly they bring great strength of character to our leadership”. The appointees are:

  • Brian McCawley, Senior Vice President of Sales focusing on North America.
  • Mike Osborne, Key Account Advisor will be responsible for advancing sales of additives in North America.
  • Christopher Speight, Chief Financial Officer for the Americas

Jonathan Forrest Wilson, President of Alltech Greater China


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, May 23rd 2019.

  • Hen Numbers in Production Down by a Significant 5.9 Million to 329.8 million.
  • Decrease in Shell Inventory by 1.8 Percent following a 2.3 Percent Decline in Past Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Medium Large Down 6.6; 6.8 and 7.0 Percent Respectively Compared to Past Week.
  • Breaking Stock Price Down 7.3 Percent and Checks by 36.4 percent. Both Categories Substantially Below Cost of Production



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on May 20 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were down 6.6 and 6.8 percent respectively compared to the past week. Mediums were down 7.0 percent. The progression of prices during 2019 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The May 20th USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 66: No. 20) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.50 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending May 13 th and reflects the sharply lower early summer prices during that week despite a slightly lower stock level. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.44 per dozen, below the cost of production. At the high end of the range, price in the Southeast Region attained $0.57 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was $0.43 per dozen below the three-year average and $0.44 per dozen below the corresponding week in 2018 which fell sharply after Easter.


USPOULTRY Foundation Approves a Grant to Investigate False Layer Syndrome


The University of Georgia will receive a grant from the USPOULTRY Foundation in part provided by a gift from Cargill to investigate the cause and prevention of false layer syndrome. This condition first described in the 1960s, re-emerged in the U.S and Canada sporadically in 2017 and is attributed to exposure of pullets to specific strains of infectious bronchitis.

Introduction of routine vaccination of pullets at the hatchery with infectious bronchitis strain Ma5 appears to provide sufficient protection and together with subsequent live and inactivated vaccines has resolved the problem. Notwithstanding the current situation, a detailed study into the pathogenesis of the condition and the specific strains of infectious bronchitis virus involved will be beneficial to the industry, especially if the condition reappears or if other strains of infectious bronchitis emerge affecting the urogenital system.


Multi-State Outbreak of Salmonellosis Attributed to Imported Tahini


Tahini and halva under the Karawan brand imported from Israel has been implicated in a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Concord. The pathogen affecting patients was isolated from unopened samples of product.

To date, four illnesses have been diagnosed with one hospitalization. Cases were confirmed in New York (2); Massachusetts (1) and Texas (1).

This case illustrates the ability of CDC to identify outbreaks of foodborne infection involving only a few patients residing in more than one state. Databases coupled with PCR assay and more diligent diagnostic procedures can identify the presence of specific pathogens. Application of routine Whole Genome Sequencing allows investigators to positively correlate isolates from patients with a specific food or processing plant.


Eggs Served as Street Snacks in Japan


Vendors in markets serve fried eggs on a formed vegetable base eaten from a small tray. Price equivalent to $3 per serving


Egg Packs in Japan


Eggs are marketed in PET 10-packs under refrigeration in small urban supermarkets, basically large convenience stores at $2.20 to $3.00 per pack


Unique Egg Pack in Japan


Eggs at a rural store in Japan packed in a round PET container with cells and plastic net. Detailed nutritional data imprinted on label indicating a ten-day shelf life consistent with preoccupation with “freshness” in Japan. Displayed under refrigeration at $2.20 per 10 eggs.


Review of April 2019 Production Costs and Statistics.


The review of USDA statistics for March and April released in May and posted in a previous edition of EGG-NEWS is revised by incorporation of the commentary on data. This was not included previously due to restraints associated with internet connectivity during travel to Japan.


Review of April 2019 Production Costs and Statistics.

  • April 2019 USDA Ex-Farm Benchmark Price Down 34.6 Percent from March 2019 to 39.7 cents per dozen Consistent with Seasonal Trends and Oversupply.

  • April 2019 USDA Average Nest-run Production Cost 1.4 Percent Lower than March 2019 at 59.5 cents per dozen.

  • April 2019 USDA Benchmark Nest-run Margin Decreased from March 2019 to Loss of 19.8 cents per dozen.

  • April National Flock ( over 30,000 hens/farm) Up 6 million or 1.9 percent to 325.3 million.



Summary tables for the latest USDA April 2019 prices and flock statistics made available by the EIC on May 12th 2019 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous April 9th 2019 posting reflecting March 2019 cost and production data.


Target Reports on Q1 of FY 2019


In a press release dated March 22nd Target Corporation (TGT) announced results for the 1st Quarter of Fiscal 2019 ending May 4th.

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)

1st Quarter Ending

May 4th 2019

May 5th 2018

Difference (%)





Gross profit:




Operating income:




Pre-tax Income

Net Income







Diluted earnings per share:




Gross Margin (%)




Operating Margin (%)




Profit Margin (%)




Long-term Debt:




12 Months Trailing:


Return on Assets (%)



Return on Equity (%)



Operating Margin (%)



Profit Margin (%)



Total Assets




Market Capitalization



Consensus expectations for TGT were:- Revenue $17.32 billion; EPS of $1.43 and same-store sales growth of 4.2 percent.

52-Week Range in Share Price: $ 60.15 to $90.39

Market post-release noon May 22nd $78.48 up 9.1 percent

Forward P/E 12.7 Beta 1.0

Comparable store sales growth in Q1 2019 attained 4.8 percent compared to 3.0 percent in Q1 2018

Traffic increased 4.3 percent in Q1 2019 compared to 3.7 percent for Q1 2018

Effective May 4th 2019 TGT operated 1,851 stores with an area of 239,797 ft2

In commenting on Q1 results Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO stated "Target had an outstanding first quarter, as our team delivered a great experience for our guests and drove strong growth in traffic, comparable sales, operating income and earnings per share," He added "over the last two years we have made important investments to build a durable operating and financial model that drives consumer relevance and sustainable growth. Target's first quarter performance and market-share gains demonstrate that the model is working. Throughout this year, we will continue to extend the reach of our same-day fulfillment options, strengthen our portfolio of owned and exclusive brands, remodel and open more stores and invest in our team. We're confident that we're well-positioned to deliver strong financial performance in 2019 and beyond."

TGT issued EPS guidance for Q2 corresponding to a range of $1.52 to $1.72.


Val-Co® Launches E-Commerce Val-Co Store


Val-Co has established an E-commerce website to supply a range of watering, feeding, ventilation components and repair parts. New products include nipples, rebuild kits for regulators, bin bottom conversion kits, fans, vent actuators and numerous electronic components for ventilation, feeding and watering systems.


First Quarter Egg Production in Brazil Higher than in 2018


According to a report from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics egg production in Brazil attained 908 million dozen (30.2 million cases) during Q1 of 2019, approximately 5.5 percent higher than the corresponding quarter of Fiscal 20018.


The Brazil-Arab News Agency reported exports of one percent of eggs produced  by Brazil to Middle East nations during the first quarter of 2019, an advance of 7 percent over Q1, 2018.


National Retail Federation Opposed to Increasing Tariffs on Goods from China


The National Retail Federation (NRF) has released a statement opposing the imposition of 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods that have yet to be included in the round of mutually punitive tariffs.  In a statement by Matthew Shay, CEO of the NRF the organization noted, “We support the Administration’s efforts to deliver a meaningful trade agreement that levels the playing field for American businesses and workers” He added “the latest tariff escalation is far too great a gamble for the U.S. economy.” 


The NRF statement included, “Taxing Americans on everyday products like clothes and shoes is not the answer for holding China accountable.  Working with our allies who share the same concerns and immediately rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership are more effective ways to put pressure on China without hurting hardworking Americans.”  A study commissioned by a pro-business group, “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” has projected that placing a 25 percent tariff on all remaining imports from China would result in up to two million American jobs losses, will cost the average family $2,300 each year and lower GDP by one percent.


Contributors to the CNBC Before the Bell program on May 21st predicted that existing tariffs are now being placed on current purchases and that proposed escalation or extension would result in store closures. In quarterly reports and analyst calls CEOs are already warning of lower margins and predicting impacts on the bottom line as a result of trade disputes.


Status of Corn and Soybean Crops


The USDA Crop Progress Report released on May 20th documented the status of the 2019 corn and soybean harvest.


Planting of both corn and soybeans was delayed in many states by heavy spring rains and flooding


EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS will report on the progress of the two crops and will post weekly updates through the end of the harvest.




Week Ending

Crop Parameter

        May 12

         May 19

5-Year Average

Corn Planted




Corn Emerged








Soybeans Planted




Soybeans Emerged











The following quotations for May and July as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on Thursday May 17th together with values for the previous week in parentheses. Last week the commodities market recorded an increase in the futures price of corn, a sharp decline for soybeans and an almost static price for soybean meal delivered in July and September. This was attributed to the unexpected imposition of tariffs on goods to be imported from China in response to alleged backtracking by that nation leading to a lack of progress in bilateral trade negotiations to settle the ongoing dispute. Optimism leading to increases in commodity prices two weeks ago was apparently premature. The negative effect of the release of the USDA Grain Stocks Report on Friday March 29th documenting soybean stocks followed by the May WASDE #588 confirmed the effect of reduced shipments of soybeans to China. The numerous conflicting statements by White House spokespersons over the months since the dispute began is disconcerting to the commodities market and contributes to fluctuation in prices.



Corn (cents per bushel)

July 383 (362 May)

Sept. 390 (370 July)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

July 821 (830 May)

Sept. 834 (843 July)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

July 294 (292 May)

Sept. 297 (297 July)

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


Corn: July quotation up 21 cents per Bu from May   (+5.8 percent)

Soybeans: July quotation down 9 cents per Bu        (-1.1 percent)

Soybean Meal: July quotation up $2 per ton.            (-0.7 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 0.40 cent per dozen

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


The USDA Crop Progress Report for the week ending May 6th noted that 23 percent of the corn crop had been planted, compared to a five-year average of 46 percent. Six percent of the corn crop has emerged compared to the five-year average of 13 percent.

Six percent of the soybean crop has been planted, compared to the five-year average of 14 percent

The March 29th USDA Grain Stocks Report, issued Quarterly confirmed a 3.2 percent decline in corn stocks in all positions to 8.60 billion Bu. compared to the March 2018 report. Farm storage represented 59.6 percent of this total, 2.5 percent higher than for the corresponding period in 2018.

Soybean stocks increased by 28.7 percent from March 2018 to 2.716 billion Bu. in March 2019. On- farm storage attained 1.270 billion Bu. representing 46.7 percent of all stocks. On-farm storage was 48.5 percent higher in March 2019 compared to 2018 reflecting the intent of farmers to hold stocks in anticipation of a rise in price following resumption of exports to China.

Negotiations with China are apparently at an impasse unless China makes extensive, durable and firm concessions as suggested following shuttles between Beijing and Washington that will continue as high-level discussions in the U.S. this week. Some concessions have been made by China on coercive trade practices and dispute resolution as amplified by President Xi addressing participants in a Belt and Road Conference this past week but apparently not to the satisfaction of the White House. From an agricultural industry perspective the question of delays by China in approving new GM cultivars has yet to be settled. No date has been set for a summit to sign a trade deal although the Presidents of China and the U.S. are scheduled to meet at the G20 Summit in Japan in June. Prices will be influenced by the trend in stock levels, area to be planted in 2019 and early crop progress in the face of possible flooding.

According to the May 8th 2018 WASDE Report #588, 85.4 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2019 to produce 15.0 billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.15 billion bushels from 87.8 million acres harvested. The levels of production for the two commodities are based on preliminary pre-planting projections of yield and crop progress. Ending stocks were revised based on anticipated domestic use and exports.

See the WASDE posting summarizing the May 8th USDA-WASDE Report #588 under the STATISTICS tab documenting price projections and quantities of commodities to be produced, used and exported from the 2019 harvest.

Unless shipments of corn and soybeans to China resume in volume, as anticipated, the financial future for row-crop farmers appears bleak despite the release of two tranches amounting to $8 billion as "short-term" compensation for producers of commodities. A further $20 billion compensation is anticipated.

Late-May will be make-or-break for negotiations with China. The outcome has profound implications not only for the two antagonists but for the World economy.


Cargill to Recall Southern States® Feed Due to Elevated Aflatoxins Level


Cargill Animal Nutrition is recalling feeds under the Southern States® brand due to the presence of aflatoxins.  Products were recalled during the first quarter of 2019 and involved equine and poultry formulations.


Products were manufactured at the Cleveland, NC plant and distributed in northeast and Mid - Atlantic States. The recall was initiated following notification of violative levels by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.  No adverse effects have been reported.


Information circular on HPAI available to travelers entering Japan



Kroger Focusing on Home Chef® Meal Kits


Despite intense competition and negligible profitability in the home-meal kit market, the Kroger Company has added convenience-related items to the Home Chef range.  Pilot testing of heat-and-eat lunch kits will begin in late May at 68 Kroger stores in Illinois and Ohio.


Home Chef Meal Kits are available in 900 Kroger banners and offer the advantage of speed, variety and elimination of post-meal cleanup.  Kroger claim a five-minute preparation time followed by cooking for 30 minutes. A meal will serve two diners at under $9 per serving. 

For the new Home Chef range, six new recipes will be added incorporating conventional and ethnic dishes with new recipes each month.  A Kroger spokesperson stated, “Our new meal solutions provide additional flexibility for families and individuals who want to get a meal on the table quickly.”


It appears that rapid home dining has progressed full circle from TV dinners through from-scratch preparation to meal kits.


Passing of Arthur Papetti


EGG-NEWS regrets to record the passing of Arthur Papetti on May 2nd at the age of 87.


Born into the family business which became Papetti’s Hygrade Poultry and Eggs, he and his brother Tony concentrated on egg production and distribution.  He was a pioneer in egg processing and built a business on satisfying needs for specific egg liquid products.


He was a board member of the Prepared Food Association, the United Egg Association, the New Jersey Poultry Association and other industry-related organizations.  He received Urner Barry Man of the Year award, the Golden Egg Award and was regarded highly in the industry.


Salmonellosis Linked to Imported Tuna


In a May 9th 2019 release the Food and Drug Administration announced that JK Fish of Vietnam was added to import alert 16-120 allowing the Agency to detain product without physical sampling and analysis.

This action was taken following isolation of Salmonella Newport from samples of ground tuna imported to the U.S. and sold to restaurants and food service companies. Thirteen illnesses have been diagnosed and confirmed with two hospitalizations. Seven states have recorded cases ranging from Connecticut to Washington.

 On April 15th, Jensen Tuna voluntarily recalled frozen ground tuna following the initial diagnoses. The Centers for Disease Control and state public health authorities analyzed information leading to ground tuna as the most probable vehicle for infection and FDA established the trace-back to Jensen Tuna and their supplier in Vietnam.


Updated USDA Projections for 2018 and 2019 U.S. Egg Production


The USDA Economic Research Service issued an updated forecast of egg production on May 16th, following the previous April 16 th report. The volume of eggs produced and per capita consumption in 2019 were increased by 2.9 and 1.4 percent respectively compared to revised 2018 data. Consistent with this disparity, the benchmark New York price was reduced by 18.0 percent in unit value Production data reflecting 2016 and 2017 should be compared to 2015, impacted by the Spring outbreak of HPAI in the upper-Midwest. The price elasticity of eggs is denoted by the disparity in the decline in the New York price benchmark relative to forecast volume of production. The latest data is reflected in the table below:-














2018 2019 Difference % 2020

(actual) (forecast) 2018 to 2019 (projection)





Production (m. dozen)




7,952 8,183 +2.9% 8,270


Consumption (eggs per capita)




284.1 291.7 +2,7% 292.8

New York price (c/doz.)




138 87 -37.0% 105


Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook -May 16th 2019

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

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


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, May 16th 2019.

  • Hen Numbers in Production Down 0.2 Million to 335.7 million .
  • Decrease in Shell Inventory by 2.3 Percent following a 9.1 Percent Increase in Past Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Large on Average Down 8.3 Percent Compared to Past Week. Mediums Down 6.6 Percent.
  • Breaking Stock Price Down 18 Percent and Checks by 48 percent. Both Categories Substantially Below Cost of Production



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on May 13 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were down 8.1 and 8.4 percent respectively compared to the past week. Mediums were down 6.6 percent. The progression of prices during 2019 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


Walmart Posts Improved Top and Bottom Lines


Walmart Stores Inc. Posted a one percent increase in revenue to $123.9 billion for the 1st quarter of FY 2020 ending April 30th compared to the comparable quarter of FY 2019. The Company generated net income of $3.842 billion ($2,134 billion Q1 FY 2019) and an EPS of $1.33 ($0.72). WMT recorded a 2.9 percent increase in same-store sales growth (without fuel). E-commerce revenue rose by 37 percent.



EPA Backtracks on Plan to Reveal Names of Waiver Recipients


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has apparently cancelled an announced policy to publish the identity of refineries receiving waivers under the Renewable Fuels Standard.


The proposal made public in mid-April blindsided the White House and the oil industry.  The proposal was not published in the Federal Register but was widely discussed, meeting with the support of the Renewable Fuels Association, the industry group representing ethanol producers.

Withdrawing the plan after announcement will incur the enmity of both the corn lobby and the RFA.


Waivers can be extended to small fuel refiners processing under 75,000 barrels of fuel per day if it can be proved that complying with the RFS, requiring purchasing of EINs would represent a financial hardship.  It is noted that many small refineries are in fact owned by large oil companies including Chevron and Exxon.


Waivers have been a source of concern for the RFA since they materially diminish their potential market and reduce the artificial demand for ethanol to be added to gasoline.


PETA Attempting to Influence NIH Budget


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA) has initiated a campaign to influence the budget of the National Institutes of Health to eliminate the use of animal in research.  The organization is using a mobile billboard in the area near the Mar-a-Lago, Florida White House in a direct attempt to influence the President to reduce NIH funding.


The medical and scientific community point to the absolute need for controlled and ethical use of animals in research. It is a matter of fact that the majority of Nobel Prizes awarded to scientists in the category of Physiology or Medicine have resulted in part from research on animals.


The Federal Animal Welfare Act establishes rules for safety, housing, nutrition. Experimental protocols are subject to approval by institutional committees comprising peer scientists, ethicists and lay members.


Sainsbury’s Introducing Advanced Payment Technology


Following the cancellation of the proposed acquisition of ASDA, a Walmart subsidiary in the U.K., by competitor Sainsbury, the company will deploy more technology to improve efficiency.


A Sainsbury SmartShop® Scan, Pay & Go System has been installed in a Holborn Circus community store in London offering cashless shopping.  Since introduction, 80 percent of transactions have been cashless. 


Clodagh Moriarty, Chief Digital Officer stated, “This is an experiment rather than a new format for us – it hasn’t been done in the U.K. before and we are really excited to understand how our customers respond to the app. experience.”


Sainsbury’s was the first U.K. supermarket to introduce mobile-phone payments although the system is in operation in conveniencee stores in London.


Outreach Initiative for Students on Egg Production


The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture have launched My American Farm game together with a lesson plan, activity sheet and comic. The Poultry Adventure game was developed to help students in  3rd through 5th grade to understand poultry and egg production.

Barbara Jenkins, Executive Director of USPOULTRY Foundation stated “We are thrilled to collaborate with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture to share more about poultry and egg production with elementary students”. She added “As we strengthen our youth outreach efforts, this collaboration is just one of the many ways to reach elementary school-age students to help form their positive opinion of our industry”.

Christy Lilja, Executive Director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture stated “This game is unique to our My American Farm collection because of the focus on both math fluency and the problems presented to students by pushing them to critically think about what the answers to those math problems mean in each poultry and egg production phase”.

Links to the My American Farm can be accessed through



Confusion over Progress in Trade Talks


Following a White House decision, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency imposed a previously delayed tariff of 25 percent on approximately $200 billion in value of goods imported from China. The White House has also threatened to double down and impose tariffs on approximately $300 million in goods from China.

This action increased the tariff from 10 percent and could represent a deal-breaker in talks that have proceeded through eleven rounds since mid-2018. No announcement was made following the meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and Steven Mnuchin on Thursday and Friday, 9th and 10th May. According to International Trade, almost half of the $540 billion imported from China annually will be subject to the 25 percent tariff. In a countermove, China imposed tariffs on $110 billion of U.S.-origin imports and has implemented a number of administrative impediments to trade.

The White House action was announced following a realization that China might not be negotiating in good faith especially with respect to coercive trade practices and protection of intellectual property.

In unofficial social media posts, the White House has implied that increased tariffs represented  additional income for the Treasury derived from exporters in China. This assertion was corrected by Larry Kudlow in a Sunday Fox News interview. In effect, tariffs are an indirect tax on consumers and are especially damaging to specific sectors including agriculture that rely on exports to China for a number of commodities including soybeans and sorghum. Economists have warned that the intensifying trade war will disrupt global commerce, reduce U.S. GNP by 0.5 percent and could contribute to a recession with a resulting loss of 300,000 jobs.

The tariffs will take effect on shipments loaded from China effective Wednesday, May 8th. There is therefore a window of approximately three weeks representing the duration of trans- Pacific shipping to allow the negotiators to reach agreement without the tariffs being imposed.


Mexico Balks at Modifications to Previously Negotiated USMCA


The USMCA signed by the Presidents of Mexico and the U.S. and the Prime Minister of Canada have yet to be ratified by all three legislatures of the participating nations. Apart from the issue of rescinding steel and aluminum tariffs imposed unilaterally by the U.S. affecting both Canada and Mexico, the latter nation is implacable with regard to changing labor conditions.

The Democratic caucus in the House is demanding greater protection for U.S. workers, and stricter environmental and prescription-drug provisions.

Jesus Seade, Undersecretary for North America for the Government of Mexico indicated that his nation does not anticipate any changes from the conditions as negotiated. Mexico will not allow inspection of factories but will fully enforce labor reforms that coincide with the policies of the Administration of President Lopes Obrador.

The position of Mexico is that the agreement should be ratified by all parties as negotiated and if changes are required, they can be considered when the USMCA is renegotiated.

Currently the U.S. and its neighbors function under NAFTA which has served to regulate trade for 25 years. With the passage of time, new considerations have necessitated changing aspects of the relationship among the three nations. Unless USMCA is ratified, disruption of trade will occur to the detriment of the agricultural sector and especially impacting broiler and egg exports that will be placed at a disadvantage if Mexico imposes tariffs.


USDA-WASDE FORECAST #588 May 10th 2019



The May 10th 2019 USDA WASDE projections for the 2019 corn and soybean harvests are based on historical yield and harvest data. The corn acreage to be harvested was determined from planting completed and stated intentions at 85.4 million acres (81.8 million in 2018). In 2019 soybeans will be harvested from 87.8 million acres (88.3 million acres in 2018). There was apparently no material change due to recent Midwest flooding or the forecast for wet conditions from snowmelt delaying planting.

The USDA projected corn yield to attain 176.0 bushels per acre, (178.9 bushels in 2018). Soybean yield was projected at 49.5 bushels per acre (52.1 bushels in 2018). These values presume suitable planting and growing conditions, time of sowing and standard rates of germination.

The May USDA projection of ending stock for corn was increased by 22.1 percent to 2,485 million bushels. Ending stock for soybeans will be 8.5 percent higher at 970 million bushels. Ending stocks for both corn and soybeans have influenced recent CME price quotations. It is emphasized that projections are based on the presumption of at least a partial settlement of the trade dispute with China followed by restoration of exports to that Nation, a prospect that appears in question given lower demand from China and the latest round of tariffs imposed by both nations.


Preparation for 2019 Hurricane Season


In a May 9th release, the USDA issued a recommendation for producers to plan in advance for possible hurricane damage and disruption. The USDA has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create the Disaster Resource Center website The USDA has also launched a disaster assistance discovery advisory accessible on to assist producers with information on programs contributing to recovery.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance Program for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish and provides assistance with emergency loans.

Lessons learned from previous hurricanes include the need to have available sufficient diesel fuel to run emergency generators for periods in excess of 72 hours, especially for hatcheries, planning access routes for feed and disposal of birds killed by wind and flooding in addition protection of employees and facilities.


Wegmans Launching Scan-As-You-Go Trial


Wegmans is trialing an iPhone app in their East Avenue store in Rochester NY. Shoppers can scan barcodes and obtain a running total of purchases.


FSNS Assists FFA Students with Projects


Food Safety Net Services (FSNS) has completed 15 years of supporting members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) with their projects. Company personnel provide advice and make available facilities to enable students to complete projects related to food safety.

The Company believes that assistance and support will contribute to the development of the next generation of agricultural scientists. Providing students with hands-on experience in laboratories and networking will encourage aspiring scientists to continue their studies through doctoral level and to contribute to both agriculture and consumer wellbeing.


USDA-ERS Professionals Concerned Over Relocation and Restrictions on Publication


Two issues are creating dissent and uncertainty in the ranks of USDA Economic Research Service scientists. In 2018, USDA Secretary Dr. Sonny Perdue proposed relocating the ERS from Washington to a location outside the metropolitan area in an attempt to improve communication and to reduce expenditure. The proposed action has been extensively criticized both in Congress and by the economics profession. Retention of the ERS within Washington is beneficial to both ERS scientists and the economic community given commonality of the interest and available university and governmental agencies.

Representative Chellie Bingree (D-ME) stated that the USDA has not yet provided cost-benefit analysis to support the contention that relocation of the agency will reduce costs. The relocation plan was due for release in mid-May after a vote by ERS employees to form a union.

The second issue of concern to ERS scientists relates to relocation of the agency from the Research Education and Economics Authority to the USDA Chief Economics Office. ERS scientists believe that the intent of the change will be to place greater control over publication of statistics and the direction of research.

Recently the USDA was seen to attempt to place restrictions on release of research which will henceforth require clearance from the USDA Chief Scientist. Dr. Catherine Smith Evans, former ERS Administrator, submitted testimony to the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee in late March stating relocation of the agency under the supervision of the USDA Chief Economist Office would “reduce assurances of the scientific integrity and objectivity of ERS statistics and research and threatens the accuracy of its critical statistical products”.

It is now apparent that the USDA Chief Scientist Dr. Chovonda Jacobs-Young requires scientists to add a declaratory statement in published reports which has the potential of degrading the value of data and conclusions. The proposed statement reads The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.

 It is generally accepted that a manuscript submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed journal will be subject to evaluation by scientists in the field and if considered acceptable for publication, will be regarded as worthy and meritious.

The agricultural community, the federal government, financial institutions and exporters rely on accurate data on which to base decisions. The ERS is a pivotal agency in this regard and any attempt to reduce effectiveness or morale should be regarded with concern.


FSNS Schedules Training Courses


Food Safety Net Services (FSNS) has scheduled a series of training courses relevant to food production during June:

  • FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
    • June 5-7, Columbus, OH
    • July 10-12, Greeley, CO
    • June 11-12, Omaha, NE
    • August 28-29, Columbus, OH
  • Microbiology in Food Safety
    • June 11, Atlanta, GA
    • July 11, Boise, ID
  • Preventive Maintenance
    • July 30, Greely, CO

For further information, access


Emergence of Multi Drug-Resistant Salmonella Anatum in Taiwan


Epidemiologic surveillance in Taiwan demonstrated a sharp rise in the isolation of Salmonella Anatum from human patients and chicken carcasses from 2015 through 2017. Concurrently Salmonella Stanley and S. Agona remained constant in prevalence. In 2011, a new strain of Salmonella Anatum was identified. This strain was generally susceptible to most antibiotics. The increase in Salmonella Anatum infections after 2015 were associated with multiple drug-resistant strains. These isolates carried blaDHA-1 encoding for resistance to beta lactamase including third-generation cephalosporins. This gene is located on a plasmid which can be transferred to E.coli and other potential pathogens restricting the range of antibiotics which can be used for treatment.

*Chiou, C-S, et. al. New multi drug-resistant Salmonella Enteriga serovar anatum clone Taiwan 2015-2017, Emerging Infectious Diseases 25:144-147


Hendrix Genetics Benefits from U.S. Distribution Network


Concurrent with the move towards non-caged flocks, Hendrix Genetics initiated a program of direct production and distribution to producers in North America. The considerable investment in hatcheries vehicles and support allowed the company to deliver 60 million day old pullet chicks in 2018. Hendrix offers two white strains (DeKalb and Shaver) and two brown strains (ISA and Bovans).

The performance of the white strains was evaluated in the most recent 40th North Carolina State Random Sample Trial. Over a single cycle combining the white strains, Hendrix Genetics produced 426 eggs in conventional cages, 368 in a colony system and 449 cage-free. Comparative egg production from other breeders attained to 398, 361 and 407 eggs per hen respectively. Superior egg production was reflected in revenue over feed cost with a 72 cent per hen advantage in conventional cages, 75 cent in colonies and $2.49 for cage-free flocks.

Ken Alvarez, Director of Sales and Marketing for Hendrix Genetics predicts that Shaver White and DeKalb flocks will soon achieve 500 eggs in 100 weeks without molting under optimal conditions.

The Hendrix philosophy is to provide optimal genetic potential supported by technical service and strict quality control through multiplication hatching and delivery. Alvarez commented “we are focused on providing field support by leveraging the expertise of our team to deliver customer success”. He added “the most important business for us is repeat business”.


IAFP 2019 Meeting in Louisville


The 2019 annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection will take place in Louisville, Kentucky July 21-24.  The opening session will include the Ivan Parkin lecture delivered by Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, Professor at New Mexico State University on The Power of Play: Using Media to Educate our Stakeholders.  The U.S. Regulatory Update on Food Safety will take place on Monday, July 22 featuring Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner FDA and Dr. Mindy Brashears, Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, USDA.


The John H. Silliker Lecture will be delivered by Dr. Robert V. Tauxe, Director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Disease, CDC entitled, From Outbreak Catastrophes to Clades of Concern, How Whole Genome Sequencing can Change the Food Safety Landscape.


The meeting attended by more than 3,500 will include workshops, scientific sessions, posters, exhibitors and an awards banquet.


Information on registration is available from


Soft Cheeses Implicated in STEC Infection


Authorities in France are investigating a recent outbreak of E. coli O26 infection attributed to consumption of soft cheeses from a number of regions in the Nation.  The current outbreak has resulted in over 20 cases of children developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, an extremely serious complication following infection.


Traceback is complicated by the fact that infected product was distributed carrying numerous brand names and lot numbers. There is evidence that contaminated product may have been exported from France to E.U. nations and Canada. Based on the frequency of isolation of Listeria and E. coli from soft cheese, presumably made from unpasteurized milk, authorities are now recommending that susceptible consumers including very young, elderly, pregnant and immunosuppressed consumers should avoid eating soft cheese now regarded as a vehicle of infection for this STEC strain.


Tennessee Legislature Fails to Act on Raw Milk Bill


Following outbreaks of E. coli O157: H7 from raw milk resulting in hemolytic uremic syndrome during 2018, Senator (Dr.) Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) introduced Senate Bill 15 which would have restricted distribution of potentially contaminated product. The Bill would have allowed consumption of raw milk only by a sole owner of a dairy effectively outlawing the co-sharing schemes intended to circumvent any ban on sale of raw milk.

The legislature of the state of Tennessee has effectively deferred consideration of the Bill until resumption of the General Assembly, adjourned for 2019.


Failure to enact legislation as proposed by Senator Briggs is retrograde and endangers public health.  EGG-NEWS has consistently maintained that providing children with raw milk is a form of abuse given the risk and consequences involved.


USDA Increases Rates for Inspection


In accordance with 7 CFR Part 56-Voluntary Grading of Shell Eggs, the USDA has announced an increase in charges effective October 1, 2019.  Resident/Scheduled Service (in-plant) will rise to $62.00 per hour, with overtime at $80.00 per hour.  Holidays will be charged at $97.00 per hour.  There will be a $6.00 per hour differential for night and a $17.00 per hour additional  fee per Sunday. Further details are available on the AMS website:


American Humane Named the “Best Charity” by Consumer Reports


Consumer Reports recently named American Humane a Best Charity in recognition of their management, policies, transparency and service, following an extensive review of ratings by diverse non-profit watchdog organizations.  Charity Navigator assigned a “4-star” rating to American Humane representing the major national humane group so honored.  American Humane is listed by the Better Business Bureau among the select list of the “Wise Giving Alliance”.  American Humane is a “Top Rated Charity” with an A Rating by the American Institute of Philanthropy “CharityWatch” and has earned a gold-level seal from GuideStar USA for commitment to transparency and accountability.  Credentials of American Humane contrast sharply with the Humane Society of the United States which has consistently lagged in assigning income to animal-related activities, functioning as a lobbying and self-interest organization with a string of scandals in recent history.


USDA Reaffirms Science in Decision-making


In an April 26th press release, the USDA reaffirmed a commitment to science-based decision-making.  Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting Chief Scientist and Administrator of the ARS and Dr. Scott Hutchins, Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics attended the G20 meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists held in Tokyo during late March.


Hutchins stated, “I was pleased to see an affirmation of the rule for science-based decision-making for advancing global food production in the communiqué.”  He added, “Globally we are seeing an increase in the use of scientific information in policy-making and it is important that we remain vigilant in our risk-assessment process to ensure that we continue to accelerate innovation in agriculture.”


While there is no doubt as to the commitment and integrity of the Secretary of Agriculture and his immediate subordinates, who incidentally are all “acting” there is trepidation over undue pressure from the White House on policy and issues which may be regarded as politically sensitive.  It must be remembered that the 2017 nominee for the position currently held by Dr. Scott Hutchins was a conservative Mid-west talk show host with no scientific credentials.


Panera Bread to Appoint New CEO


JAB Holding Company, owner of Panera Bread and other investments has announced that Niren Chaudhary will transferred from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts where he has served as COO since 2017 to become the president and CEO of Panera Bread.  He will replace Blaine Hurst who has led the company since early 2018 and will retire.  Prior to joining Krispy Kreme, Chaudhary spent 23 years with Yum! Brands including president of KFC Global and president of Yum! India.


Blaine Hurst joined Panera in 2010 and was appointed president following the acquisition by JAB.


H5 LPAI Diagnosed in Breeder Ducks


A diagnosis of H5 low-pathogenic avian influenza was reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) by USDA-APHIS. The affected farm is in Monterey County, California.

An epidemiologic investigation is in progress to determine the source of infection.  In addition to the farm that housed 9,500 breeder ducks, two biologically contiguous farms were also placed under quarantine and have been sampled for the presence of AI virus.


The disposition of the flock is unknown but if quarantine can be maintained, the flock should cease shedding virus within a month and will thereafter be noninfectious although expressing H5 antibody.



FDA to Strengthen Voluntary Recall Protocol


According to an April 23rd release, Melinda K. Plaisier, Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs outlined the proposed procedures for voluntary recalls in a draft Guidance Document relating to 21 CFR part 7, subpart C.

Food producers will be required to prepare plans relating to voluntary recalls to ensure prompt and efficient execution. 



The key areas will be:-


  • Training – the draft guidance provides recommendations for companies manufacturing or distributing foods or products regulated by the FDA.  Specific trained personnel must be designated and their responsibilities defined.
  • Record keeping – traceability requires accurate records including digital systems with specific reference to blockchain technology.  Products must be appropriately coded with corresponding distribution records.
  • Procedures – written procedures are required to implement a recall to limit exposure of consumers to potentially hazardous products.
    During the past 18 months the FDA has refined recall procedures.  Under specific circumstances the Agency will disclose supply chain and retail distribution information relating to both human and animal foods.  There will be greater transparency relating to recalls with posting on the FDA Enforcement Report which list all events monitored by the FDA.
    The Agency points to alerts, advisories and consumer warnings issued in relation to contaminated foods, drugs and dangerous products that have averted illness, injury or death.


Development of Recyclable Plastic


A report in Nature Chemistry* describes the synthesis of a new vitrimer plastic with the ability to degrade, representing a possible solution to the problem of persistence of current plastics in the environment. It is estimated that only ten percent of U.S. plastic material is recycled with remainder destined for landfills or waterways.  The new plastic incorporates dynamic covalent diketone amine allowing plastic to be degraded to constituent parts in the presence of an acid.  The new plastic can be recycled from the degraded acid slurry for reuse. It is possible to separate the new plastic from conventional waste in recycling facilities.


The economic feasibility of the new plastic material is not known and there is no timetable for extension from the laboratory to commercial application for either packaging or products.


*Environment doi:10.1126/science.aax7790


FSNS Appoints Barry Carpenter as Advisor


Food Safety Net Services (FSNS) has announced that Barry Carpenter has joined the company as Senior Advisor for Regulatory Affairs and Client Relations. He will be assisting FSNS customers and their management teams in working with FSIS and FDA along with many trade organizations.


Prior to joining FSNS, Carpenter worked for the USDA where he served as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Livestock and Seed Program. In the area of international marketing, he represented the United States on the United Nations Committee on Agriculture from 1990 to 2006 and chaired the meetings of the Specialized Section on the Standardization of Meat from 1994 to 2006.

 Carpenter graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor degree in Animal Science in 1969. He participated in numerous training courses during 37 years with the Federal Government including labor relations, financial management, and legislative process. Carpenter received numerous governmental awards, including Presidential Rank Awards from both President Clinton and President George W. Bush. His industry awards include the National Meat Association’s prestigious E. Floyd Forbes Award for his contributions to the livestock and meat industry, the pork industry’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Meat Institute’s Richard E. Lyng Award for Public Service. Carpenter was also inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame.


Walmart Gathering Experience from Retail Lab Store


A 50,000 square foot Neighborhood Market on Long Island is providing Walmart with data from store monitoring. Strategically placed cameras coupled with machine learning are used to alert staff to replenish shelves and to replace aging produce.

Mike Hanrahan, CEO of Walmart Intelligent Retail Lab and a co-founder of, purchased by Walmart in 2015, stated “We really like to think of this store as an artificial intelligence factory, placed where we are building these products, experiences, where we are testing and learning”. The ceiling cameras are supplemented with sensors on shelves that detect stock not visible to the cameras of the monitoring system.

Walmart has ensured that shoppers’ privacy is respected and the cameras cannot recognize faces or track movement. The retail lab follows an earlier lab store based on a downsized Sam’s Club to test Scan & Go that allows customers to scan items and check out on their phones.

Information gained from lab store will allow Walmart to gradually refine and introduce technology into mainstream stores. The intent is to lower operating costs which will enable the company to compete with both mainstream supermarkets and Amazon.


Weis Markets Plans Upgrades


In a company release, Weis Markets announced that it would spend $110 million during 2019 to upgrade stores and support infrastructure. Jonathan H. Weis, Chairman and CEO stated “As part of our Company’s commitment to long-term growth, we will invest roughly $110 million in our store base and support areas”. He added “We will erect a new store in Bucks County and complete fourteen store remodels, six fuel centers and improvements in our supply chain and information technology”. Weis offers curbside pickup in 125 stores and 174 stores offer home delivery via Shipt.

For FY 2018 ending December 29th, net sales attained $3.5 billion, a 1.2 percent increase over the preceding fiscal year. Net income declined by 36 percent to $62.7 million generating an EPS of $2.33 compared to $3.66 for fiscal 2017. The discrepancy in earnings was in part due to a tax provision in fiscal 2018 of $19.4 million compared to a tax benefit of $19.4 million in the preceding year. Operating income for fiscal 2018 increased by 9.4 percent. During the year, online orders increased by 33.2 percent.


CDC Report Emphasizes Value of EQAPs


The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the week of April 26th (Volume 68:369-373) noted that a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis was traced back to a single farm that was not in compliance with the FDA Final Rule on Salmonella Prevention.

During the period 2015 through 2018, FoodNet, the active population-based surveillance system for laboratory-diagnosed infections, recorded an incidence rate of 18.3 cases per 100,000 population for all Salmonella infections. Salmonella Enteritidis was an important serotype contributing to diagnosed cases but in contrast to previous years, the vehicle of infection includes poultry meat and produce in contrast to eggs.

The trend in the incidence of egg-borne salmonellosis since introduction of Egg Quality Assurance Programs (EQAPs) introduced by states, the UEP and producers that preceded the FDA Final Rule of 2010 clearly attests to the value of industry initiatives These comprise placement of chicks from NPIP-certified hatcheries, vaccination, biosecurity and mandated periodic assay of flocks for Group-D Salmonella. The remaining risk to consumers is from flocks flying under the FDA radar based on size or where small-scale farmers deviate from prudent and established good production practices.


Renewable Fuels Association Attacking Small Refinery Exemptions and Pressing for Year Round E-15


The April 25th release of the Ethanol Report circulated by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) noted that the comment period for the proposed EPA Rule on Year-Round sales of E15 would end on Monday April 29th.

The RFA has pressed for the concession although year-round availability of E15 will not materially move the needle on consumption. Their persistence relates more to the RFA playing to its base than improving the profitability of corn-based ethanol production.

The RFA has also drawn attention to the numerous small (and not so small) refinery exemptions that have detracted from potential volume of domestic off-take. The RFA has demanded more details including the identity of recipients of small refinery exemptions and the volumes involved.


U.K. Competition Agency Nixes Asda and Sainsbury Merger


The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority has issued a negative ruling on the proposed merger of Asda, a Walmart subsidiary and leading supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.

Judith McKenna, CEO of Walmart International noted “It was against the backdrop of competition that we decided to explore the proposed merger with Sainsbury’s – an opportunity which would have further strengthened the Asda business and delivered benefits to U.K. customers”. McKenna continued “While we’re disappointed with the final report and conclusions, our focus now is on continuing to position Asda as a strong U.K. retailer delivering to customers. Walmart will ensure Asda has the resources it needs to achieve that”.

Roger Burnley, CEO of Asda commented “We were right to explore the potential merger with Sainsbury’s which would have delivered great benefits for customers and supported the long-term sustainable success of our business. We are disappointed with the findings of the Authority, but will continue to find ways to put money back into customer’s pockets and deliver great quality and service”.

The decision of the Competition and Markets Authority could be regarded as a negative for Walmart since the transaction would have placed the burden of management on Sainsbury’s with Walmart benefitting from dividends on their intended minority equity position. The proceeds of the sale were to have been used as part of the $16 billion purchase of a controlling interest in Flipkart of India.


Fire destroys barn at Herbruck’s


A blaze on Tuesday evening destroyed a barn, interior equipment and the flock at Herbruck's Poultry Ranch in Saranac, MI. The conflagration was confined to the affected building

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Operations on the complex have not been affected.


Beyond Meat has Outstanding IPO


Beyond Meat innovator and manufacturer of plant-based patties and sausages debuted on the NASDQ under the ticker symbol BYND. Priced at $25 the share opened for trading at $46 and advanced steadily to close up 163 percent at $65.45. The company now has a market capitalization of $3.8 billion.

Interviewed on the trading floor by CNBC, Company Founder Ethan Brown indicated that invested capital will be used to expand production facilities and distribution. At present the Beyond Meat patty is selling in 17,000 stores and has received growing interest from the food service sector. Brown deflected questions as to when the Company might achieve profitability noting that there will be considerable plow-back to build for the long term.


Beyond Meat is obviously promoting healthfulness and sustainability as attributes but evidently does not compare nutritional value of its plant-based products with conventional meat especially with respect to essential amino acids. 


It remains to be seen whether the stock price will hold through successive losing quarters.


FDA Intensifies Surveillance for Listeria in Ice Cream Plants: Implications for Egg Production?


In 2015, Blue Bell Creameries Inc. was forced to cease operation due to a trace-back from a listeriosis outbreak to three of their plants that yielded Listeria monocytogenes. The episode attributed to the Company had effectively been responsible for sporadic cases since 2000. In the event the owners of the family-held company were forced to relinquish control to an investment group that refinanced the enterprise during the prolonged period of decontamination and retraining of personnel before reentering the market.

Based on the experience with Blue Bell and given the risk of foodborne listeriosis and salmonellosis associated with ice cream, the FDA initiated a review of 89 plants in 32 states. In a release dated April 24th, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, Frank Yiannas stated that the inspections conducted in 2017 and 2018 resulted in three voluntary recalls. The Agency provided guidance to rectify deviation from good manufacturing practices, some of which were characterized as violations. Yiannas stated “The results serve as an important reminder to all food facilities distributing products in the U.S. of the importance of complying with rules set forth to mitigate safety issues”.

It is evident that the FDA is becoming more proactive with regard to food safety. New antigen capture, field-deployable test kits, the introduction of whole genome sequencing as a routine in many laboratories and the presence of PulseNet and similar databases operated by the CDC are now in general use by trained epidemiologists. It is possible to identify outbreaks involving only a few patients and to determine the source of infection. Implications for the egg industry are self-evident. If any egg-borne Salmonella outbreak occurs due to deviation from the Final Rule on Prevention of Salmonella or if there is an emergence of a new pathogen, action by the FDA will be swift and decisive. This was clearly evidenced by the response in 2018 to a limited outbreak of salmonellosis attributed to a specific complex in North Carolina involving a recall of a substantial quantity of eggs and the depopulation of a farm with in excess of two million hens.

By now all egg packing plants should have a procedures manual specifying good manufacturing practices which will limit the possibility of introduction for dissemination of an egg-borne infection. All major packing plants conform to SQF Level 3 requirements as regularly updated, but this may not adequate to provide durable protection in a litigious environment. Many egg producers are adapting technology from the meat industry and even from human medical facilities to reduce environmental contamination. Training of personnel in HACCP and good processing procedures should be a component of company culture. With an increase in size of plants and complexes, the risks of transmitting an infection increase disproportionately as is evident from the 2010 SE outbreak associated with a farm operated by the DeCoster family in Iowa. Continuous review of food safety procedures and validation of HACCP programs should be a regular component of management. The FDA will be more proactive and aggressive in prevention of disease and has shown competence in recognizing and investigating multi-state outbreaks. Tort lawyers specializing in foodborne infections are quick to respond to outbreaks.


Growth in Private Labels Beats National Brands


According to Nielsen data quoted by EmsembleQ Inc., during 2018, store brand sales across all outlets attained $128.6 billion, 4.4 percent higher than the $123.1 billion posted in 2017. Unit sales increased by 3.3 percent to 44.8 billion in 2018. Private label growth increased 9.8 percent in 2018 with a unit volume gain of 10.6 percent. In contrast, there was no growth in dollar volume for national brands that contracted by 1.3 percent in unit volume.


Ovotrack Compatibility with Moba Diamond and Staalkat Graders


Ovotrack have upgraded software to ensure connectivity with Moba Omnia, and Sanovo Ardenta, OptiGrader and GraderPro equipment.

Entering the loader, Ovotrack creates a batch identity by scanning a farm-affixed bar code label. Data encoded can include farm name, egg type, quantity, date of lay and certification status. This information is shared with offline packers that are able to create specific batch identities for individual pallets or racks. Post-grading results are reported according to the delivered batch identification. Results are exported to the Ovotrack database in real time. Data can be collated to reflect farm, house, time-period or egg type for instantaneous trace-back to source.

 Ovotrack software eliminates the need to manually sort and group results of grading and to prepare settlement statements for suppliers. Ovotrack results can also be used to plan packing schedules and to ensure availability of packing material. For further details, access


U.S. Continues Negotiations with China


According to Reuters U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin travelled to Beijing in late April and participated in talks with their counterparts representing the government of China. In return, Vice Premier Liu He will lead a delegation to Washington to continue discussions on May 8th.

Topics yet to be resolved include protection of intellectual property, coercive practices to acquire technology from U.S. companies, purchase of agricultural commodities and enforcement of any trade agreement between the nations.

In an address to the National Press Club, the Director of the White House National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow expressed “cautious optimism” concerning a deal which would be desirable for both nations.

A spokesperson for the foreign Ministry of China noted “Trade negotiations between China and the United States have already achieved tangible progress”.


Austrian Producer Upgrades Ovotrack Installation


Poringer Frischei in Austria commenced using an Ovotrack system in 2004. In late 2014, Poringer installed a Moba Omnia grader with an MR 50 depalletizing robot. Ovotrack was able to adapt software and integrate the components into a system to allow automatic changes among batches packed. An ECI tag is attached to the top corner of each pallet on receipt at the plant. The ECI tags are read by a scanner on the Moba grader that in turn activates a batch change on the Omnia packer.

Poringer was the first user of Ovotrack to transmit production orders to the grader and to reconcile printed labels with specific orders. Poringer supplies a large market for dyed eggs, operating probably the largest egg-coloring plant in the world.

CEO of the company, Alexandra Furthner-Poringer stated “Traceability of colored eggs is as important as traceability as all other eggs we process and sell”. She added “We need to know which eggs are processed on each coloring machine and which customers they are sent to. Therefore we scan every pallet we process, register date and time and coloring machine and label each case of colored eggs with a unique ID and barcode”.


Blue Apron Reports Narrower Q1 FY 2019 Loss


Blue Apron Holdings reported a narrower loss of $5.1 million on revenue of $141.9 million for the 1st Quarter of FY 2019 ending March 31st 2019 surprising on the bottom line. Comparable values for Q1 FY 2018 were a loss of $31.7 million on revenue of $196.7 million.


The “less bad” result was achieved by slashing marketing expenses by $25 million to concentrate on more accessible channels (low-hanging fruit?) but reflected in the 28 percent decline in revenue. The largest contribution to the decreased loss was the reduction in cost of goods sold.  By improving planning, supply chain management and reduced packaging APRN reduced their highest component of cost from 66 percent of sales in Q1 2018 to 58 percent for the most recent quarter, attesting to previous inefficiency and mismanagement.


The Company has progressively lost customers, and filled fewer orders consistent with competition, cost and evaporation of the curiosity factor. Among affluent consumers


APRN share price has declined from a 52-week high of $4.15 to $0.65, deep into de-listing territory. At 11H00 on April 30th APRN was trading at $1.01 down 2.7 percent and equivalent to the 50-day moving average. The Company has a 12-month trailing negative profit margin of 18.3 percent and a negative operating margin of 16.8 percent.



McDonalds Corp. Reports on Q1 FY 2019.


In a press release dated April 30th 2019 McDonald's Corp (MCD) announced results for the 1st Quarter of Fiscal 2019 ending March 31st

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)

Quarter Ending March 31st.



Difference (%)

Revenue: (Company Stores 45.0%/50.6%)




Gross profit: Company Stores:




Operating income:




Net Income




Diluted earnings per share:




Gross Margin Company Stores(%)




Operating Margin (%)




Profit Margin (%)




Long-term Debt: December 31st 2018/2017




12 Months Trailing:


Return on Assets (%)



Return on Equity (%)



Operating Margin (%)



Profit Margin (%)



Total Assets: December 31st 2018/2017




Market Capitalization



52-Week Range in Share Price: $153.13 to $200.00 (+11 percent YTD)

Market Close April 29th $197.11 Market 11H00 April 30 th post-release $199.00 on earnings beat.

Forward P/E 22.5 Beta 0.3

MCD achieved growth in global comparative sales of 5.4 percent (U.S. 4.5 v International 6.5 percent)

As at March 31st MCD operated 37,971 stores, either Company-owned, franchised or licensed.

MCD benefitted from promotions, simplification of menus E-ordering, delivery and greater use of technology. The Company acquired IT enterprise Plexure and an equity position in Dynamic Yield to provide future benefits

In Commenting on results Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO stated "we started the year strong with our 15th consecutive quarter of positive global comparable sales, reflecting continued broad-based momentum across each of our global segments," He added "we remain focused on running better restaurants and elevating the experience for our customers by providing convenience on their terms through delivery , Experience of the Future , and our evolving digital channels ."

We're also seeing growth in the US, where we've been rolling out the

Experience of the Future

to the 14,000 restaurants in that market. Stores that have modernized to this new model are seeing sales lifts and increased customer satisfaction scores.


Decontamination of Vegetables and Fruit


Recent outbreaks of foodborne infection including Listeria, Salmonella and E.coli are attributed to consumption of contaminated fruit and specifically leafy vegetables. A current publication in Food Microbiology and Safety reported on comparisons of pulsed light, ultraviolet irradiation alone or in combination with washing to eliminate Salmonella. Both spot and dip inoculation were applied to simulate contamination under controlled laboratory conditions.

Pulsed light was applied at 0.3 J/cm2 in three consecutive pulses. This treatment was compared to ultraviolet irradiation at 28mW/cm2 for 2 minutes for the most extreme treatment. All treatments reduced levels of contamination by approximately three logs especially on fruit, but lettuce was more refractory to the treatments. Since UV irradiation was as effective as pulsed light and requires lower capital expenditure, this technology was recommended in combination with washing to reduce bacterial pathogens.

To achieve eradication it will be necessary to apply electron beam treatment to fruit and produce. Although effective and relatively inexpensive, the technology has yet to be shown to be consumer- acceptable. If the technology is promoted as “like an x-ray” consumers will be willing to purchase produce certified free of bacterial contamination. If regarded as an “irradiation” many consumers would prefer to risk infection.

*Huang, R. and Chen, H., Comparison of water-assisted decontamination systems of pulse light and ultraviolet for Salmonella inactivation on blueberry, tomato and lettuce. Microbiology and Safety, (2019)


New Just-Crack-an Egg varieties Introduced


According to a Company release on Monday April 29th Kraft Heinz Co. announced the addition of three new varieties to its Just-Crack-an Egg range. The new retail products include: Protein Packed, Southwest Style and a vegetable-based version of its original product.

Protein Packed includes uncured bacon, pork sausage and sharp cheddar cheese. The Southwest Style is made with chorizo, Monterey jack cheese, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and onions. The company is also launching a veggie version of its Just Crack an Egg.

“Consumers are demanding more of their breakfast. We know people are looking for something that’s easy to prepare but also satisfies their personal breakfast desires,” said Matt Riezman, associate director of marketing for Just Crack an Egg. “Our four original varieties satisfy people’s desire for a convenient, hot breakfast on a weekday that reminds them of something they only had on the weekend. Now, we’re expanding the line to include meatless options, incorporate spicy flavors and provide an option for people looking for more protein.”

In 2018, Just Crack an Egg launched four varieties including Denver Scramble, All American Scramble, Ultimate Scramble and Rustic Scramble.


CDC Investigates Listeria Outbreak


PulseNet has identified eight cases of listeriosis spread among four states extending from November 15th. 2018 through March 4th 2019.  All patients were hospitalized and one fatality occurred in Michigan.  Interviews suggested deli meats and cheeses from different retail locations could have served as vehicles of infection. Investigators identified Listeria monocytogenes in meat not identified as to type, sliced in delis in multiple stores presumably applying whole genome sequencing to establish any relationship among isolates.  As yet, a common supplier has not been identified but investigations are in progress.

The CDC issued the standard warnings suggesting that pregnant women and seniors should be careful in consuming deli meat.  This is patently wishy-washy.  Either susceptible consumers including those with immunosuppression should eat deli meat or they should not; at least until the source is identified and recalled.  Suggestions regarding surveillance in plants and enhanced cleaning of slicers in delis are obviously practical and potentially beneficial.


Conflict Over the Potential Economic Impact of the USMCA


The U.S. International Trade Commission has released a comprehensive report on the effects of the proposed United States Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA) negotiated to succeed NAFTA which has been in effect for 25 years.  The Commission estimates that the USMCA will increase Gross Domestic Product by 0.35 percent and generate 176,000 jobs.


In contrast, the White House Council Of Economic Advisors estimates an additional $34 billion in total investment in the U.S. auto industry and creation of an additional 76,000 jobs in the sector over a five-year period.


The agreement as negotiated but not yet ratified, increases wages for workers in Mexico reducing unfair competition to the U.S. and also mandates increased U.S. automobile content.  It is estimated that increases in production cost will passed to consumers and small automobiles will increase in price by close to two percent with a consequential reduction in sales.  Alternatives to compliance with new rules will result in increased tariffs which may well be borne by manufacturers.


It is hoped that the divergence between the parties in Congress will soon be resolved since ratification of USMCA is critical to the agricultural sector of our economy.  Rescission of Section 232 tariffs should be implemented concurrent with ratification of USMCA.


Dogs Trained to “Sniff Out” Birds infected with AI Virus


According to a recent news item in JAVMA* Colorado State University and the National Wildlife Research Center are cooperating on a project to determine whether dogs can detect wild birds infected with avian influenza virus (AIV).

The project led by Dr. Richard Bowen of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at CSU. Dogs have been trained to detect some olfactory markers associated with AIV in infected mice and ferrets.  It is hoped that the project will extend to birds since a trained dog will be able to screen for AIV quickly and effectively in hunter-killed or trapped migratory waterfowl.

Trained dogs have been trained to identify humans with diabetic ketosis and can identify urine samples from patients with bladder cancer. In these and similar applications there is a known compound that can be detected by the sensitive olfactory ability of trained dogs. The principle by which AIV infection in birds can be detected has yet to be explained.


*Mattson, K. Colorado State University, USDA Trained dogs to sniff out bird flu. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 254: 765


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