In a food market driven by money, greed and power, our only hope for access to clean, sustainable and humanely treated food are watchdog groups whose sole purpose is to keep the industry under a microscope.
That’s exactly what The Cornucopia Institute does — a relentless organic watchdog group whose mission is to “draw attention to and rein in abuses from the rise of factory farm confinement dairy operations in organic agriculture.” Continue reading »
Germany’s top supermarkets, the powerhouses of Europe when it comes to retail, have delivered a blow to the biotech industry by forcing the German poultry industry to return to the use of non-GMO feed.
It was announced last Thursday that the German supermarkets, with a broad consensus, recently demanded from the German Poultry Association (ZDG) to stop using GMO feed for both egg and poultry meat production, starting from January 1st 2015. That is the date when the retailers want to receive GMO-free fed products again, meaning poultry suppliers will have to rush to get their feed supply chains free from GMO feed once more. Continue reading »
The Justice Department forced Tyson to sell its sow-buying business that competed head-to-head with Hillshire’s sow slaughter business. The Justice Department should be commended for recognizing the buyer-power that pork processors and marketers have over hog farmers and taking a necessary step to protect farmers from increased consolidation in the pork packing industry. The pork packing industry remains overly concentrated, but at least the Justice Department prevented it from getting any worse. Continue reading »
The last time we looked at the rather unpalatable issue of soaring bacon prices back in March, it was the direct result of exploding, no pun intended, prices of lean hogs stricken by the aptly named porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, which killed up to 7 million pigs and pushed the price of pork and its derivatives to record highs. We have bad news: according to Reuters an Indiana farm has become the first to confirm publicly it suffered a second outbreak of a deadly pig virus, fueling concerns that a disease that has wiped out 10 percent of the U.S. hog population will be harder to contain than producers and veterinarians expected. That’s right, the PEDv, aka pig diarrhea bug, is back, and this time it may have mutated.
A few months ago we reported that while the Fed is seeing nothing but hedonic deflation as far as the eye can see, food prices – for whatever reason but “certainly not” due to trillions in liquidity entering a close system so just blame it on the weather – were soaring to record highs. Among them was the price of beef, which in 2014 alone has soared by the most in over a decade. This led the US Department of Agriculture to warn of “sticker shock” facing home chefs on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the unofficial start of the U.S. summer grilling season.
According to the USDA, reported by Reuters, conditions in California could have “large and lasting effects on U.S. fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices,” as the most populous U.S. state struggles through what officials are calling a catastrophic drought. Alas, the USDA had nothing to say about the Fed’s unprecedented desire to reflate the US economy which is still suffering from the catastrophic depression which started nearly 7 years ago. Continue reading »
As the price of meat continues to skyrocket, will it soon be considered a “luxury item” for most American families? This week we learned that the price of meat in the United States rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month. Leading the way is the price of shrimp. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of shrimp has jumped an astounding 61 percent compared to a year ago. The price of pork is also moving upward aggressively thanks to a disease which has already killed about 10 percent of all of the pigs in the entire country. And the endless drought in the western half of the country has caused the size of the U.S. cattle herd to shrink to a 63 year low and has pushed the price of beef to an all-time high. This is really bad news if you like to eat meat. The truth is that the coming “meat crisis” is already here, and it looks like it is going to get a lot worse in the months ahead. Continue reading »
The average price of USDA choice-grade beef has soared to $5.28 a pound, and the average price of a pound of bacon has skyrocketed to $5.46. Unfortunately for those that like to eat meat, this is just the beginning of the price increases. Due to an absolutely crippling drought that won’t let go of the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951. But back in 1951, we had less than half the number of mouths to feed. And a devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the United States before has already killed up to 6 million pigs in this country and continues to spread like wildfire. What all of this means is that the supply of meat is going to be tight for the foreseeable future even as demand for meat continues to go up. This is going to result in much higher prices, and so food is going to put a much larger dent in American family budgets in the months and years to come.
One year ago, the average price of USDA choice-grade beef was $4.91. Now it is up to $5.28, and the Los Angeles Times says that we should not expect prices to come down “any time soon”…
Come grilling season, expect your sirloin steak to come with a hearty side of sticker shock.
“We are deeply sorry for this whole affair,” said Wal-Mart’s China president after the world’s largest retailer recalled donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals – including fox. “It is a deep lesson (for us) that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management,” repeat-offender Wal-Mart added as Reuters reports the tainted “five-spice” donkey meat may mean “wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust [in Wal-Mart’s brand] they had before.” Donkey meat is a popular snack in some areas of China, but as one bemused customer noted, oddly, “Isn’t fox meat more expensive than donkey meat anyway?”
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, has recalled donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals, the U.S. company said. Continue reading »
Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans to “relax” federal meat and poultry inspections, allowing meat processors greater leeway in policing themselves, already the agricultural trend. But most food activists ask how standards could be relaxed any further when drug residues, heavy metals, cleaning supplies, gasses, nitrites, hormones and other unwanted guests contaminate the meat supply. They are almost all unlabeled.
Hamburger chef Jamie Oliver has won his long-fought battle against one of the largest fast food chains in the world – McDonalds. After Oliver showed how McDonald’s hamburgers are made, the franchise finally announced that it will change its recipe, and yet there was barely a peep about this in the mainstream, corporate media.
As the meat industry again makes news thanks to an endless stream of articles about horse meat masked as beef popping up all over Europe, the “pink slime” story is still playing itself out in courthouses, law offices and the one BPI plant still in operation.
Five weeks before the Internet went mad over the presence of “pink slime” in ground beef across the U.S., the product’s creator was being inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame.
Food-safety advocates are raising alarms over a decision by the Obama administration to permit chicken processed in China to be sold in the U.S. even after several high-profile incidents of food contamination.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in addressing a decade-long trade dispute over farm imports, said it will allow poultry slaughtered in the U.S. and Canada to be processed in China and returned to the U.S. for consumption. Critics are vowing to fight the decision, which they say puts consumers at risk due to lax Chinese factory oversight.
The man who has bankrolled the production of the world’s first lab-grown hamburger has been revealed as Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The internet entrepreneur has backed the project to the tune of €250,000 (£215,000), allowing scientists to grow enough meat in the lab to create a burger – as a proof of concept – that will be cooked and eaten in London on Monday.
“It’s really just proof of concept right now, we’re trying to create the first cultured beef hamburger,” said Brin in a film to mark the tasting event in London. “From there I’m optimistic that we can really scale by leaps and bounds.”
I don’t follow the commodity markets as closely as I used to, but the following article related to beef prices really caught my eye. Last year’s drought and consequent spike in grain prices led to negative margins for cattle producers, who subsequently culled their herds. As expected, this has resulted in tighter supply today. We see this evidenced in the fact that retail ground beef prices were up 13% year-over-year in June, and the CEO of Ruth’s Chris mentioned during a recent presentation that they were forced to raise prices in February. While grain prices are much lower today, which should encourage expansion in cattle supply, this process will actually cause even more tightness in the near-term as more animals are set aside for breeding rather than slaughtered.
U.S. beef production is plunging to a 21-year low after surging feed costs spurred ranchers to cut herds, signaling record prices for consumers and higher costs for buyers from McDonald’s Corp. to Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Production in the U.S. will decline 4.9 percent to 10.93 million metric tons in 2014, retreating for a fourth year, the government says. The herd on July 1 was the smallest for that date since at least 1973, according to the average of four analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Retail ground-beef prices in June were up 13 percent from a year earlier and near a record set in January.