Editorial

 

“India is Starving It’s Kids” -- Try Eggs!

Jul 24, 2015
    

The Saturday-Sunday, June 27th-28th Opinion Review published in the International New York Times contained a detailed exposé of political influence by the ruling BJP party in India to perpetuate continued malnutrition among impoverished children.  As with many conservative governments, there is a strong theocratic influence with policy dictated by “traditional values”. According to UNICEF over 50 percent of children under five in rural India are stunted.  This compares to China where less than 12 percent are affected by malnutrition.  According to the World Bank the rate of malnutrition among children in India is twice that of Sub-Saharan Africa

In early June, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (State) cancelled a proposal to supply children in economically disadvantaged areas with eggs as part of school feeding programs.

The official, Shiveraj Chouhan is an orthodox Hindu and accordingly a strict vegetarian.  It is commonly held even among educated people in India that eggs “might be fertile” and accordingly their consumption is contrary to religious dictates.  Since commercial eggs in India are derived from caged hens, this justification is arrant nonsense and any person attaining the status of a Chief Minister of a populous state should be aware of the fact.

Activists for childrens’ rights have advocated for distribution of eggs which are an excellent source of critical amino acids and vitamins. Eggs are offered to children in only ten out of twenty-nine states. The jurisdictions which refuse to distribute eggs to malnourished children substitute a piece of banana and watered-down milk.  It is also noted that India has an exceptionally high level of blindness as a result of vitamin A deficiency.  This problem could be resolved by feeding “golden bananas” which have been genetically modified to contain a high level of carotenoids but for reasons best known to regulatory officials and anti-GM activists, the advantages from genetically engineered bananas and golden rice are withheld from those that would most benefit.

   

Egg Industry News

 

Disease Insurance under Consideration by USDA

Jul 27, 2015
    

On Wednesday July 22nd Senator Al Franken (D-MN) issued a statement supporting the intent of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to establish an insurance program for poultry producers to provide reimbursement in the event of a against catastrophic disease.

The statement by Sen. Franken included the comment “Right now as a grower you can insure your barn against all kinds of damage but the birds inside at risk of avian influenza and other disease outbreaks – there’s nowhere to turn for that”.  He added “Our poultry industry is so critical to rural communities in Minnesota we need to make sure it can continue to thrive.”

Franken has been active in the response to avian influenza in his state which was severely impacted by the disease.  He was instrumental in convening a meeting in Willmar with Governor Mark Dayton along with local state and Federal officials to facilitate a coordinated response to the outbreak.

   
 

HSUS Fundraising Under Scrutiny

Jul 27, 2015
    

The Council of State Governments Midwest Legislative Conference held in mid-July passed a resolution calling on Attorneys General to investigate fundraising activities carried out by the HSUS.  The action which was initiated by Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma relates to solicitations and advertisements by the HSUS which are created to convey the erroneous impression that the organization supports animal shelters.  In reality the HSUS expends funds on lobbying activities which are in direct opposition to intensive livestock production in pursuit of a vegan agenda.

The resolution noted that Charity Navigator has revoked its rating of HSUS and replaced it with a “Donor Advisory” designation.

   
 

New Entrant to the Small-Store Organic Space

Jul 27, 2015
    

The American City Business Journal of Sacramento has reported that Raleys Family of Fine Stores will unveil a “national organic smaller format” within two years.  According to the press report the prototype store is in development and the company intends opening the first operation in Sacramento, CA

   
 

Senator Schumer Criticizes Budget Cuts for USDA-ARS

Jul 27, 2015
    

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has commented unfavorably on the proposed reduction in the $500 million budget for USDA Research Funding for fiscal 2015-2016. Sen. Schumer is especially concerned as constituents in New York have complained about escalation in the price of eggs notwithstanding the fact that producers in the state were unaffected. 

Production in New York State attained 1.5 billion eggs in 2014 which is 6 percent of the production of Iowa which had slightly in excess of 50 million hens prior to the outbreak of HPAI.  New York State has in the region of 3 million hens with the largest holdings by the Kreher Family in Clarence and Wayne County (approximately 1.5 million) and Giroux Poultry in Chazy with approximately 1 million hens in production.  There are two complexes with 250,000 each and a number of smaller family-operated farms ranging in size from 25,000 to 100,000 hens.

   
 

Progress in Recovery from HPAI

Jul 27, 2015
    

In a July 24th status report USDA-APHIS has confirmed that of the 211 commercial premises with a positive HPAI H5N2 diagnosis, 90 have completed cleaning and disinfection.  Restrictions on control areas have been relaxed in 67 cases and 62 premises, representing slightly less than one third of the affected farms have been approved for restocking. 

Restocking in the most affected states of Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska varies widely and is mainly influenced by speed of depopulation and cleaning influenced by the time between diagnosis and the most recent late-July report.

   
 

Salmonella Recall Scuttles Sale of Business

Jul 27, 2015
    

Oak Tree Capital Group, a private equity concern has withdrawn AdvancePierre from a proposed $2 billion transaction following recall of 850 tons of stuffed chicken products manufactured by subsidiary Barber Foods.

Charoen Pokphand Foods, (CP) of Thailand and other investment groups were interested in purchasing the company which has been devalued by the recall.

   
 

Bachoco Posts Second Quarter Results

Jul 27, 2015
    

In a press release dated July 23rd  Industrias Bachoco SAB de CV announced results for the  2nd Quarter of Fiscal 2015 ending  June 30th 2015.

   
 

McDonald’s Corp Posts 2nd Quarter Fiscal 2015 Results

Jul 27, 2015
    

In a press release dated July 23rd McDonald’s Corp (MCD) announced results for the 2nd  Quarter of Fiscal 2015 ending June 30th.          

   
 

Progress in Post-HPAI Cleanup in Nebraska

Jul 24, 2015
    

The Freemont Tribune reports that the approximately 4.9 million hens and pullets at 5 complexes owned and operated by a subsidiary of Michael Foods have been composted. Cleaning and disinfection has been completed at two of the five facilities affected. The losses represented 25 percent of the production capacity of Michael Food’s egg-liquid as documented in a June statement released by the owner, public-traded, Post Holdings.

No additional cases have been detected in the control area following two rounds of sampling and continued surveillance since the outbreak was diagnosed. Accordingly the quarantine has been lifted.

   
 

Moark East Division to be Acquired by Hillandale Farms

Jul 24, 2015
    

Industry sources have indicated that Hillandale Farms  has purchased the assets comprising the East Division of Moark LLC owned by Land ‘O Lakes Inc. Hillandale Farms of Connecticut will assume ownership. The entity comprises complexes in Connecticut and a facility leased from companies in Maine apparently controlled  by Austin "Jack" DeCoster.

This transaction marks the end of direct egg production-related involvement for the Minnesota-based agribusiness cooperative. The Midwest Division was sold to a consortium in 2014 and now operates as Opal Foods. The marketing components were  divested to two entities and leased facilities were closed in 2014. 

 

   
 

Impact of HPAI on Hen Population

Jul 24, 2015

Cumulative loss of hens commencing in late April and progressing through
mid-June reduced hen numbers to approximately 11 percent to 270 million.
Losses were disproportionately in large in-line breaking complexes.

   
 

Webinar on HPAI

Jul 23, 2015
    

Alltech Inc. hosted a webinar on the Spring 2015 HPAI epornitic on July 7th. The program reviewed the history of the outbreak, impact on turkey grow-out and egg production and provided comments on future activities

The direct link from Go To Meeting is: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7428867173431473666

   
 

Sprouts Comments on Strategy 

Jul 23, 2015
    

Doug Sanders, president and Chief Executive Officer of Sprouts Farmers’ Market recently described his company’s growth strategy.  Based in Phoenix the chain now operates over 200 stores in 13 states with an eventual target of 1,200 stores.

Sprouts is obviously not a smaller version of Whole Foods Market with which it is frequently compared.  Stores are smaller and offer a broad selection of products.  In contrast with its closest competitor, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts offers a full grocery line with well-stocked meat, seafood, deli and bakery departments. 

Sprouts contrives to appeal to a middle-income clientele and places its stores in close proximity to mainstream supermarkets.  Sanders explained “we are a natural foods retailer so we don’t sell Coke, Tide, Pepsi and things of that nature.  We move produce to the center of the store and take lower margins on produce and make higher margins on our perimeter departments”.

   
 

Secretary of Agriculture Reticent to Declare End To HPAI Outbreak

Jul 23, 2015
    

In a statement to The Associated Press, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack confirmed that he  “was not ready to declare the Midwest bird flu outbreak over”.  No new outbreaks have been recorded since June 17th.

It is somewhat disconcerting that in public statements by officials that considerable weight is given to the onset of hot weather as a reason for the cessation of incident cases.  EGG-CITE has noted previously that H5N1avian influenza is endemic in hot-climate nations such as Egypt although it is acknowledged that the virus is sensitive to ambient temperatures above 100 F.  In point of fact the body temperature of a chicken exceeds 104 F so the industry cannot rely on temperature as a major factor in preventing dissemination of viable virus.

As noted previously it is possible that the end of new (incident) reported cases is associated with the fact that biosecurity has been upgraded and that the highly vulnerable large complexes in Iowa and Nebraska which were affected reduced the potential population of susceptible birds in the affected counties concerned.

   
 

What Constitutes “Local”

Jul 23, 2015
    

A study conducted at Purdue University disclosed wide divergence of opinion among respondents as to the understanding of the term ‘Local’ as a descriptor of a product.  Overall, 37 percent of consumers regarded the designation of ‘local’ as being produced within ten miles of the point of sale, 21 percent accepted 20 miles and 17 percent were content with in-state production.  Perception of ‘local’ varied according to region within the U.S. and was influenced by gender and income.  It was noted that consumers were willing to pay a $2.02 per pound premium for the USDA to verify local production of chicken breasts but only 37 cents per pound for producers’ claims that their chicken breasts were produced locally. 

The same consumers were willing to pay virtually double for U.S. Department of Agriculture verification of chicken but were apparently disinclined to pay extra for verification of locally-produced pork chops.

It is evident from the results that considerable research is required to understand the processes behind accepting ‘local’ as a component of label descriptors.  It is noted that fine-dining restaurants favoring local production actually indicate the farm name and occasionally the county   from which meat and poultry was sourced.  Menus do not allow any choice between ‘local’ and generic ingredients. The prices patrons pay are based on an anticipated expectation of ‘local’ sourcing reflecting the ambiance and image of the establishment. In some cases designating farms and system of husbandry on menus is pretentious.

It is self-evident that designating “local production” would be impractical for chain restaurants and QSRs catering to price-sensitive consumers.           

   
 

Nova-Tech Infrared Beak Treatment

Jul 23, 2015
    

Recently Jim Sieben, President of Nova-Tech Engineering updated industry participants with information on patented infrared beak treatment.

EGG-CITE is posting the PowerPoint presentation for the benefit and information of subscribers and readers.

View the presentation at http://egg-cite.com/presentations/novatech-irbt-2015/default.aspx

   
 

Insect Protein Considered at IFT Conference

Jul 22, 2015
    

A session was devoted to insect-based ingredients at the Institute of Food Technologist’s (IFT) Conference which was held in New Orleans during the week of July 13th.

A number of industry periodicals in the EU and in Latin America have recently published articles on the potential for insect-derived feed ingredients for poultry diets .

At the meeting Aaron Dossey, proprietor All Things Bugs, described proprietary technology to produce a powder from crickets which could be added to human food products.

Dr. George Ziobro of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition commented on a growing interest in insect-derived foods but cautioned producers to consider health and safety aspects. He noted that the allergenic status of insect-derived ingredients was unknown and if any products are marketed they should bear warning labels and specify the insects from which the product was manufactured.

   
 

Minnesota Reports AI in a Chickadee

Jul 22, 2015
    

The Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota has confirmed that an AI virus (strain not specified but presumed to be H5N2) was identified in a chickadee (Poecile atricopillus) submitted to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

The isolation (or demonstration of RNA) resulted from routine surveillance of wild birds including the announced project initiated in July to be undertaken in cooperation with the Department of Interior and concentrating on waterfowl.

It is not possible to comment constructively on the significance of AI virus in single a songbird given the absence of serotype or even the results of genotyping which may indicate an epidemiologic relationship to outbreaks in turkeys and laying hens in Ramsey County.

Given the quantum of virus in the environment of counties affected by H5N2 avian influenza it is considered likely that species of passeriformes might be accidentally infected and become transitory shedders of virus without displaying clinical signs, analogous to the situation in anseriforms.

The implications are self evident. Structural biosecurity should include exclusion of free-living birds from houses and feed spillage around feed bins which attracts numerous wild bird species should be prevented.

   
 

House Committee Approves H.R. 1599 on Labeling

Jul 22, 2015
    

On July 14th, the House Committee on Agriculture approved H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.  Introduced in March by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), this legislation was subjected to bipartisan amendments before acceptance by the Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

   
 

McDonald’s in New Zealand to Source Free-Range Eggs

Jul 22, 2015
    

In a July 14th press release, McDonald’s New Zealand subsidiary noted that fifty-four franchisee locations will “commit to sourcing free-range eggs to compliment current purchases of substantial amounts”.  No specific date for the conversion has been provided and will be dependent on investment in facilities by egg suppliers.

Although the announcement appears far-reaching in its gravity it must be accepted that the total McDonald’s New Zealand requirement of 13 million eggs annually could be supplied by a flock of 45,000 hens.

   
 

Restocking in Progress in States Affected by HPAI

Jul 22, 2015
    

In a July 13th release, the USDA-APHIS has announced that restocking is in progress in four Midwestern states affected by HPAI. 

In Minnesota, 39 of the 109 premises where flocks were depleted have been approved for restocking. 

In addition five out of ten farms in South Dakota, both of the two farms each in Missouri and North Dakota and the single unit in Arkansas have also been approved to receive birds after decontamination and testing.

Of the 211 premises diagnosed with HPAI, cleaning and disinfection has been completed on 64 farms and 58 control areas have been released.

Among the backyard farms positive for H5, six premises affected in January and February have been approved for restocking with five of these located in Washington and Oregon states

 

   
 

HPAI – Related Escalation in Egg Price Impacts Producer Price Index

Jul 22, 2015
    

EGG-CITE has documented the rise in price of table egg and egg products each week following the emergence of HPAI in four Midwest states during May and June.

It is estimated that the approximate doubling in the price of eggs during June was in part responsible for a 0.4 percent rise in the producer price index.  During the past twelve months producer prices have fallen 0.7 percent mainly due to lower fuel costs.  The core price which excludes food and energy rose 0.3 percent in June.

   
 

Blue Bell Receives Funding from Investor

Jul 22, 2015
    

On March 27th, EGG-CITE reported on trace-back due to listeriosis diagnosed in a Witchita, KS. hospital, to a plant producing a Blue Bell ice cream product.  Subsequently on April 15th, EGG-CITE posted a report outlining more extensive contamination requiring closure of all Blue Bell plants.

In May Blue Bell laid-off 37 percent of its 3,900 employees and furloughed an additional 1,400.  Cessation of activities and destruction of inventory placed the company which marketed in 23 states in a precarious financial position.  Without new funding, the Company established in 1917, was in danger of bankruptcy.

   
 

German Ban on Beak Trimming

Jul 22, 2015
    

The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Christian Schmidt has extracted an agreement from the German Poultry Industry Association and the Association of German Turkey Producers to cease all beak-trimming effective August 1, 2016.  In commenting on the agreement Schmidt noted “we will become the EU trendsetter in animal welfare”.

A similar ban scheduled to take effect in England in 2017 has been subject to considerable opposition and scientific data developed under the auspices of Bristol University will be submitted to either modify or delay the new regulation.

   

Shane Commentary

 

The Gluten Lie and Unsubstantiated Food Concerns

Jul 24, 2015
    

Dr. Alan Levinovitz recently published The Gluten Lie and Other Myths About What You Eat debunking the current fad to avoid gluten. It is estimated that a third of consumer are now following either a strict or partial gluten-free diet which is in most cases totally unnecessary.  Only a small proportion, estimated at five percent of the U.S. population demonstrates an adverse clinical reaction following consumption of gluten.

The fad of avoidance is fueled by websites and personalities who are “sensationalists not scientists”.  Levinovitz claims that “citations notwithstanding, books are filled with slick, manipulative, unscientific hyperbole, design to scare consumers and make the authors money”. 

In The Gluten Lie Levinovitz maintains that even physicians are willing to sensationalize their theories generating fear among consumers.  It is claimed that promoting gluten-free diets promotes the sale of expensive foods and is an example of predatory marketing.

Levinovitz claims that veganism and lesser extremes including fat-free, salt-free, sugar-free and gluten-free diets including other fads such as cleansing and consumption of exotic fruits and miraculous berries, offer false promise. These are “built on myth and superstition and are covered over with a layer of scientific rhetoric” according to the author.

For decades, growth of the egg industry was constrained by theories which at least had some scientific basis until it was shown that that dietary cholesterol was not directly associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease.  In 2012 it was accepted that eggs contained 30 percent less cholesterol than previously determined, following refinement of the standard USDA extraction and analytical procedure. Studies conducted since 2000 have shown that consuming an egg each day does not raise serum lipids in consumers not predisposed by familial hypercholesterolemia.

There is no rational alternative to a balanced diet containing animal protein, eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, minerals and vitamins. Body weight is a function of the difference between caloric intake and expenditure through exercise.  Responsible physicians advocate moderation and a “healthy” lifestyle. There is no “miracle food” or “super diet” nor is there a substitute for physical activity to avoid obesity.

   

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Mon Jul 27
 Corn3.84 $/bu
 Soybeans9.33 $/bu
 Soybean Meal321.00 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer234  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 250-253 ¢/doz