Looking back, looking forward
December 8, 2010
As each year ends, I always like to review the major industry news events of the year. During my review of 2010, I was surprised by the number of more positive news stories that didn’t involve worrisome proposed legislation, unfair trade barriers, product recalls on food-safety fears or commodity-price increases, just to mention a few of those nagging topics that result in many management headaches.
For example, just about this time last year, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation and six of its subsidiaries emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a 13-month restructuring. São Paulo, Brazil-based JBS SA acquired 64 percent of Pilgrim’s Pride in Sept. 2009, establishing JBS’s position in the chicken processing industry.
Earlier this year, a group of investors led by the Rocke family, founders of RMH Foods LLC, Morton, Ill., reacquired the business from Smithfield Foods, which is indeed a rarity these days. And in late January, the president nominated Dr. Elizabeth Hagen as the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Undersecretary for Food Safety – a key food-safety position that remained vacant for more than one year. She assumed the post later on during the year.
Smithfield Foods returned to profitability in the third quarter of its fiscal year due largely to its packaged meats business and sales overseas.
Mid-year, Marfrig Alimentos SA, a Brazilian meat-processing powerhouse, acquired Keystone Foods LLC, West Conshohocken, Pa., for $1.26 billion. Keystone was the largest privately held meat processor in the US with annual sales estimated at $6.4 billion. During the second half of the year, Sigma Alimentos, a division of ALFA, S.A.B .de C.V., acquired Bar-S Foods, Phoenix, Ariz.
All eyes were fixed on Tyson Foods after company veterans Donnie Smith and Jim Lochner were appointed president/CEO and COO, respectively, on Nov. 19, 2009, to see what the new leadership team could do for Tyson. On Aug. 9, 2010, Tyson announced a record-breaking FY2010 third quarter.
Soon after, Seaboard Corp. bought a 50-percent interest in Butterball LLC. The deal was in partnership with Maxwell Farms Group, an affiliated company of Goldsboro Milling Co., which owned the other 50 percent interest. Smithfield Foods previously owned 49 percent interest in Butterball, but confirmed on Sept. 10 the sale of its interest for a buyout.
Ending the year on a very upbeat note, HBO’s critically acclaimed biographical film titled “Temple Grandin” won seven Emmy awards in August, including outstanding made for TV movie. Dr. Temple Grandin, who is autistic, operates Grandin Livestock Systems Inc., Fort Collins, Colo.; is a faculty member in the animal science department at Colorado State Univ.; is a long-time columnist for Meat&Poultry magazine; and is a speaker on autism.
As the year closes, here’s hoping businesses savor those successes accomplished this year and prepare to enthusiastically move forward into 2011. From the entire Meat&Poultry
staff, here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year that will be brimming over with good news.