Editorial

 

Hampton Creek to Undergo SEC Scrutiny

Aug 26, 2016

    

Nick Wingfield reporting in the New York Times on August 19th indicated that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has initiated an inquiry into the activities of Hampton Creek. This action arises from press reports based on disgruntled ex-employees that in 2014 Hampton Creek apparently initiated a program of purchasing quantities of Just Mayo™ from store shelves.

  

This was allegedly to generate a false impression of customer demand. Industry observers discount the explanation of “quality control” advanced by Joshua Tetrick, founder and president of Hampton Creek, as contrary to industry practice. The prevailing impression was that the activity was in all probability a deceptive practice despite assertions to the contrary.

The alleged program of buy-backs was initiated prior to Hampton Creek apparently raising $90 million from private investors, claimed to include Mark Benioff, Vinod Khosla and Bill Gates.  Their names, and accordingly reputation are frequently invoked by Tetrick as endorsements of the philosophy of the company which is to replace all animal protein including eggs with plant-based ingredients based on  both environmental and welfare considerations.

Although the New York Times article stated that a 30-ounce jar of Just Mayo™ was on the shelf for $3.66 at an unspecified Walmart supermarket on Friday August 12th, on the same day a Harris-Teeter store in Durham, NC had marked the same item at $7.00, almost twice the price of a competing nationally-branded bottle of genuine mayonnaise.

Hampton Creek has been beset with published accusations of deception with regard to staging visits to laboratory facilities, extravagant claims bordering on “puffery” and questionable personnel policies. These could in a charitable sense be ascribed to managerial inexperience although Tetrick is a lawyer by training. The image of the Company and its founder benefitted from the David and Goliath conflict with Unilever and it is a matter of record that Hampton Creek was unjustly opposed by senior employees of the American Egg Board. Hampton Creek came into conflict with the FDA concerning health claims on a Company website although the Agency conceded on the brand descriptor, allowing the trade name Just Mayo™ for a product devoid of eggs but contrary to the legal definition of “mayonnaise”. 

It now appears that Hampton Creek intends to raise $220 million from investors.  The major question is not whether or not the buy-backs of Just Mayo™ in 2014 were deceptive, this consideration is probably more an inconsequential lapse in ethics than a substantial issue.  The real question is how the Company spent investors’ funds and what Hampton Creek has to show for the $100 million apparently expended to date?

The company has eerie similarities with Theranos which has been unmasked as a fraudulent concept.  Both companies were founded by outspoken entrepreneurs claiming to be disruptors of existing technology and they both made extensive use of the media.  Neither company employed or retained credible scientists or consultant specialists in their respective fields who could add integrity to claims.  Both companies have absorbed considerable venture capital from private investors with little to show in the form of accepted commercial products offering commensurate financial returns. Hampton Creek has made a lot of promises to revolutionize food production. To date it has marketed egg-free cake mixes and a “me also” ersatz mayonnaise which is simple to formulate but expensive to produce, given the artificial restraint of GM-free ingredients.

Neither company has issued audited financial statements but recent press reports based on “leakage” suggest the company is unprofitable.  Although this situation is common to many start-ups, there appears to be a negative differential between the variable cost of production and the prevailing wholesale price. Perhaps Tetrick is following the Henry Ford dictum of “losing money on every Model T but making it up on the volume”.

EGG-CITE would like to see the success of Hampton Creek which has approximately one percent of the current U.S. mayonnaise market. EGG-CITE does not wish Josh Tetrick and his colleagues any ill will, despite his close connections to the HSUS and his earlier statements vowing to eliminate the egg industry and intensive livestock production.

His standing among the investment community will be enhanced if he were to open his facilities to a group of impartial food scientists to evaluate his much-vaunted research capability.  Concurrently releasing his business plan and following the conventions of other companies which have been in operation for over five years, would be beneficial to both his personal image and that of his Company.  As Elizabeth Holmes discovered, it is not possible to fool all of the people all of the time and certainly not a Federal agency. To attempt to raise an incremental $220 million and claim a market value of $1 billion suggests a greater level of disclosure and a positive track record. A projection of intended capital investment and financial performance in the form of a comprehensive business plan should be demanded of Tetrick and his management team to satisfy the Board of the company which must represent the interests of shareholders.

Perhaps based on recent experience, the SEC is becoming more proactive in protecting investors. After-all it is held that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Why is it that aggressively promoted concepts with the terms “disruptor”, “environmentally friendly” and “sustainable” appear to attract investment capital in the 2100s like “dot com” did a decade ago?

Joshua Tetrick or a representative of Hampton Creek is welcome to respond to this Editorial. Any reasoned, factual rebuttal will be posted.

   

Egg Industry News

 

Surveillance Yields HPAI in Alaska

Aug 26, 2016

    

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of a highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza strain (HPAI) in a wild mallard duck from a state wildlife refuge near Fairbanks, AK. The risk to the general public from HPAI H5 infections is extremely low.  No human infections with Eurasian H5 viruses have occurred in the United States.

  

Np strain of HPAI has been found in the U.S. in either wild or commercial birds since June 2015. All poultry producers from small backyard flocks to large commercial complexes should review biosecurity to prevent introduction of virus from free-living birds.

Biosecurity self-assessment and educational materials can be accessed at:-
http://www.uspoultry.org/animal_husbandry/intro.cfm.

   
 

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, August 22nd 2016

Aug 26, 2016

    

Midwest-wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large sizes increased by 24 percent and Mediums by 29 percent this past week, from a slowly rising low base. The pattern of prices during 2016 is depicted in the Figure reflecting three years of data, updated weekly by the USDA.

The USDA Combined Region value for Large commodity eggs delivered to warehouses which lags the Midwest quotation by one week, increased 3 cents to $0.56 per dozen, compared to the 12-month trailing peak price of $2.77 per dozen in mid-August 2015.  The USDA Combined range for Large, was up 4 cents to $0.53 per dozen in the Midwest.

  

In the South Central Region, price rose by 5 cents to $0.62 per dozen. The current USDA Combined Price is approximately $1.05 per dozen below the three-year average which is inflated by the rise in prices during 2015, attributed to the post-HPAI shortage of all eggs.

The higher prices prevailing during the third week in August suggests restoration of a seasonal trend to higher prices through the remainder of summer into the Labor Day weekend. The decrease in stock level for four successive weeks after a previous four-week build predicates a short-term rise in price. The National productive flock excluding pre-lay pullets and hens in molt, is almost back to levels prior to the advent of HPAI, at approximately 294.7 million, up for a second successive week by approximately 300,000 hens.

Older flocks are evidently being depleted following extremely low mid-Summer prices and hens not required to supply contracts and for established customers are being either depleted and replaced by pullet flocks, hence the supply of mediums in past weeks. The market will respond to changes in availability of both shell eggs and breaking stock attributed to re-stocking and projected exports.  

Cold storage stocks in selected regions on August 15th amounted to 2.889 million pounds, 1.3 percent above the stock of 2.851 million pounds during the week of August 1st.

The monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on August 22nd documented 37.21 million pounds in total stock of frozen egg products on July 31st 2016. This was up 35.8 percent from July 31st 2015. Approximately 89 percent of inventory comprised the categories of “Whole and Mixed” (36.3 percent) and “Unclassified” (52.7 percent).

   
 

Job Posting -- National Director, Humane Heartland-Farm Animal Welfare Program -- Humane Heartland

Aug 26, 2016

    

American Humane Association seeks a National Director of Humane Heartland to serve as program head of its national farm animal welfare audit and education services program, working in association with farmers/ranchers, agricultural industry trade organizations, meat, dairy and egg trade organizations, retailers, food service, chefs, farm animal equipment manufacturers, veterinarians and academics specializing in farm animal science, legislators and regulators, media, and consumers.  This position is based at American Humane headquarters in Washington DC.

  

Founded in 1877, American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization.  American Humane created the first third party farm animal welfare program in the United States and the American Humane Certified program is the largest such program, ensuring humane treatment of farm animals.

Position summary:  

Serves as program leader for the first and largest third party farm animal welfare audit program in the nation, the American Humane Certified program, under American Humane Association’s Humane Heartland program. Seeks to educate farmers/ranchers as well as retailers on the value of third party certification of good animal welfare practices and to educate consumers and children on the taste, nutritional and quality benefits of humanely raised food. 

Responsibilities:

  • Leadership of American Humane Association’s Humane Heartland program and staff
  • National and international spokesperson for the program, reflecting the mission and values of American Humane Association
  • Program expansion across species to additional producers and processors
  • Oversight of independent auditors, ensuring proper credentialing, experience, knowledge of AHA farm animal welfare standards, availability and professionalism
  • Works to differentiate AHA and the American Humane Certified program from other third party certification programs and welfare organizations with food agendas
  • Works collaboratively with directors of other AHA programs
  • Provision of ongoing education, team building and career development for program staff
  • Accountability for fiscal management of the program; responsible for creating, monitoring and possessing a thorough understanding of program budget; controls for variances and cash flow, balancing revenue and expenditures
  • Initiates and oversees all program contractual agreements with certified producers and with manufacturers in the Seal of Approval program
  • Selects annual trade shows and industry meetings to attend to maximize opportunities to meet influential people and companies
  • Meets with major certified producers annually
  • Seeks and delivers public speaking engagements, radio and TV interviews and uses social networking, coordinating public appearances with AHA’s communications strategy and Communications department
  • Provides stories, data and content for use on website, appeals, funding proposals, projects and general public information
  • Monitors national and international farm animal health and welfare trends as well as legislative and regulatory activity and keeps senior management updated on emerging issues
  • Ensures that all program and informational materials and web site are up to date and reflective of best practices
  • Leads by example, adapting to a continually evolving environment and helping others thrive in a results-oriented workplace
  • With veterinary advisors, ensures that animal welfare standards and guidelines reflect new research and technology; directs development of new standards for additional species to be audited and certified; provides for oversight of the Scientific Advisory Committee to ensure judicious use of their expertise, volunteer time and energy

Essential experience, knowledge, skills and abilities:

  • Diversity of experience in some or all of the following fields: agricultural animal health and welfare, agriculture industry (including allied groups), food supply chain, marketing and sales, government (state or national), principles and practices associated with animal welfare including animal husbandry, humane education and employee training.
  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills; active listening
  • Adept at building collaborative relationships and demonstrating diplomacy with diverse constituencies, including farmers/ranchers, trade organizations, retailers, food services and academics
  • Demonstrated ability to provide effective and timely leadership decisions
  • Ability to run a successful business or program, including budget management

Physical demands and work environment:  

  • Extensive travel, often to remote locations
  • Exposure to barns with intensive animal production
  • Exposure to bio secure environments, requiring donning of protective gear

Employees are expected to adhere to all organizational policies and to act as role models, demonstrating American Humane Association’s core values:

  • Compassion
  • Accountability
  • Respect for all
  • Loyalty to mission
  • Sustainability
  • Honesty, integrity, trust

To apply, please email resume and cover letter to humanresources@americanhumane.org

American Humane Association is an Equal Opportunity Employer

   
 

USPOULTRY APPROVES INITIATIVE GRANTS

Aug 26, 2016

    

USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation have approved $275,000 for three research grants through the Research Initiative Program.  The recipients and their projects are:-

  • University of Iowa, Analysis of Poultry Gasification Parameters for Elimination of Avian Flu-Exposed Birds and Manure: made possible by a gift from West Liberty Foods.
  • University of Georgia, Euthanasia of Recently Hatched Chicks and Poults: made possible by a gift from Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
  • Texas A & M University, Euthanasia of Recently Hatched Neonates: made possible by a gift from Sanderson Farms Inc.
   

USPOULTRY and the Foundation have re-invested more than $26 million into the industry in the form of research grants from the proceeds of the International Poultry Expo. Over 50 universities, federal and state laboratories have received financial support since inception of the program. Many “seed money” grants have allowed researchers to generate data leading to more comprehensive funding. This represents a multiplier effect on support provided by USPOULTRY.

     

 

   
 

CONSUMERS’ BREAKFAST TRENDS

Aug 26, 2016

    

“Consumers are seeking simplicity in their approach to breakfast” according to David Sprinkle the Research Director for Packaged Facts. He attributes lifestyle changes to selection of breakfast bars and pre-made sandwiches over traditional sit-down bacon or sausage with eggs.  Cereals have undergone a significant decline in popularity. 

  

Companies which are expected to capitalize on trends include Tyson Foods with a line of Jimmy Dean microwavable hash browns, stuffed with sausage, cheese, and vegetables that can be eaten on-the-go.  Kellogg Companies are introducing Special K™ Crustless Quiche varieties with trendy ingredients such as quinoa and kale, all in microwavable presentations.

   
 

AUSTRALIAN QSR ADOPTS CAGE-FREE WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

Aug 26, 2016

    

Hungry Jack’s the Australian franchisee of Burger King announced on August 23rd that it would transition to purchasing cage-free eggs with immediate effect.  This is 16 months earlier than initially projected according to an article in the The Sydney Morning Herald. 

The chain has worked with their suppliers to achieve this objective.  Scott Baird, Chief Marketing Officer of the chain stated, “Cage-free eggs are something our customers continue to highlight as very important to them so we work very closely to our supply chain to ensure that we could convert sustainably”. 

  

In 2014 McDonald’s subsidiary in Australia committed to sourcing all its eggs as “cage-free” by the end of 2017.  Based on their stated requirement, McDonald’s would be supplied from a hypothetical flock of 320,000 hens.  Given the average size of Australian farms, this would involve a relatively small number of operations given the spread of urban centers in the nation. 

It is estimated that the population of hens producing commercial eggs in Australia is in the region of 19 million to supply a population of 25 million consumers with consumption of approximately 225 eggs per capita annually.

   
 

OIE DEVELOPS NEW ONE HEALTH WEB PORTAL

Aug 26, 2016

    

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), a subsidiary agency of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed a new web portal to promote the “One Health” concept which relates the combined initiative among the World Health Organization and the FAO to promote human and animal health which are interrelated.

  

Recent outbreaks of diseases common to animals and man include infections cause by Ebola virus, Nipa virus, SARS, MERS and Avian Influenza.  Many diseases infecting humans have a domestic animal or free-living species as a reservoir.

The “One Health” theme on the new web portal <www.oie.int> is dedicated to communication with diverse audiences and includes videos, press releases and information relating to disease.

Animals, humans and diseases

   
 

EPA Negligent on Assessing Effects of the RFS

Aug 26, 2016

    

The office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a report on the failure of the Agency to fulfill a Congressional mandate to evaluate the environmental impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  In June 2016 the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Energy and Commerce Committee required the Agency to provide information on the effect of the RFS.  The Chairman of the panel, Ed Whitfield (R-KY) stated “It’s been nearly a decade since the RFS was last revised by Congress and a lot has changed in the interim.”

  

The Office of the Inspector General documented that the EPA has missed triennial reporting obligations to Congress.  The Agency claims alternative priorities and the fact the three-year reporting interval is too short to assess effects.

The Agency is now promising to issue an analysis in September 2024, 14 years beyond the 2016 Congressional request.

   
 

Enriching Eggs with Algae

Aug 26, 2016

    

Recent press reports have highlighted the enrichment of hen diets with additives derived from algae to increase essential fatty acid content.  For over twenty years, U.S. eggs have been enriched with plant-sourced alpha linolenic acid (ALA) to increase the omega-3 nutrient content of yolk. 

Hens can convert approximately 20 percent of the dietary ALA derived from canola oil, flaxseed, flax oil and similar ingredients to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is deposited in the yolk. Both ALA and DHA are essential for development of the central nervous system in fetuses and infants.  Both DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are also required to maintain the integrity of cellular membranes and the function of the immune system.

  

Alltech Inc. has made advances in propagation of species of algae to produce a DHA supplement for poultry, dairy and aqua feeds in facilities located in the U.S. and Latin America. Branded specialty eggs are currently enriched with algae-derived DHA supplied by Alltech in Latin America, Asia and the EU.

Sino-Microalgae operates farms requiring extensive areas of land to produce 2,000 tons of algae annually using Spirulina, Pluvialis and Haematococcus species. A user of their product distributes the Aiyowe branded egg enriched with EPA, which although more costly to produce than a conventional egg apparently attracts a disproportionately high price but in a narrow market in China.

It is anticipated that algae will be used more commonly in the U.S. to create a new generation of enriched eggs offering nutritional benefits to pregnant and lactating mothers, their infants and the elderly.

   
 

Korea Now Free of Avian Influenza

Aug 26, 2016

    

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of the Republic of South Korea has announced that the Nation meets the World Organization for Animal Health requirements to declare freedom from avian influenza.  The last outbreaks occurred in April and surveillance following depletion of flocks and decontamination has not revealed the presence of virus on either farms or in live bird markets.

  

The previous declaration of freedom on February 28th was followed by a subsequent outbreak in a farm housing ducks in mid-March.  Naturally South Korea is concerned over possible reintroduction of infection by migratory waterfowl, considered the source of successive annual outbreaks.  In this respect, Japan is also vulnerable as previous outbreaks of avian influenza have been recorded on the southernmost island of Kyushu which has a profusion of lakes and numerous small chicken and duck farms with birds having access to the exterior of barns.

   
 

FDA Publishes GRAS Regulations

Aug 26, 2016

    

The Federal Register Volume 81 #159 published on Wednesday August 17, 2016 contains the Final Rule issued by the Food and Drug Administration incorporating regulations for Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredients in terms of 21 CFR parts 20, 25, 170, 184, 186 and 570.  The 94 page insert covers:

  • Purpose and Coverage of the Rule
  • Summary of the Major Provisions of the Rule
  • Costs and Benefits
  • Background of the Proposed Rule
  • Criteria for Eligibility for Classification as a GRAS Compound
  • Administrative Procedures for Submission of a GRAS Notice
  • General Requirements Applicable to a GRAS Notice
  • Authorization in Secrecy
  • Manufacture of GRAS Compounds
  • FDA Procedural Issues
   
   
 

Newcastle Disease Virus in Cormorant

Aug 26, 2016

    

As in past years, the National Wildlife Health Center has isolated virulent Newcastle disease virus (END) from a double-crested cormorant.  Affected birds were located in Polk, Rice and Mille Lacs Counties in Minnesota.

The biosecurity precautions that should be applied to segregate wild birds from commercial flocks to prevent avian influenza, are applicable to Newcastle disease. 

Both viral infections are transmitted in the same way including untreated surface water or by direct or indirect contact.

  

   
 

San Francisco Passes Foam Packaging Ordinance

Aug 26, 2016

    

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed an ordinance to prohibit the sale of polystyrene foam packaging for specified products effective January 1, 2017. 

The ordinance will apply to meat trays, egg cartons, plates, cups, packing peanuts, coolers, pool toys and dock floats made of expanded polystyrene foam.  The action was taken to prevent plastic pollution in waterways. Although technically invalid the Board noted that the material is “difficult to recycle”.

The significance of this decision lies in the fact the California is frequently a bellwether for environmental trends. Legislation emanating from the Left Coast frequently spreads eastward to other jurisdictions.

  

   
 

Syngenta to Market Enogen™ GM Alpha Amylase Corn

Aug 26, 2016

    

Ethanol producers purchase alpha amylase enzyme to degrade corn starch into sugar, the substrate for yeast fermentation into ethanol.

Major suppliers of the commercial enzyme include Novozymes and DuPont.  A few years ago Syngenta introduced the Enogen™ strain containing genes to produce the enzyme, obviating the need to purchase the additive separately.

  

It is estimated that ten percent of U.S. ethanol plants have switched to Enogen™, paying farmers a premium to cultivate and deliver this strain.

Of importance to the poultry industry will be confirmation that the nutritional properties of distillers solubles (DDGS) derived from Enogen™ conform to established values, especially if Enogen™ becomes the standard for the ethanol industry.

   
 

Bruce Lackey Responds to SNAP Editorial

Aug 26, 2016

    

Subscribers are encouraged to respond with contrary views or support of commentaries, editorials and news items posted on EGG-CITE and CHICK-CITE. 

  

The following response was received following a review of the item on administration of the SNAP program:-

Regarding the SNAP editorial I have observed markets as determined by consumer choice in conflict with local and federal efforts to change consumption behavior for a generation as our company has been selling to the entire scope of retail grocer in Columbus, Ohio for 63 years. 

These governmental agencies would be of much better service to our communities if they would focus more on increasing demand rather than force an increase of supply.  When I meet with the agencies promoting their healthy food agendas to present my views, they continue to stand on lack of supply as the culprit. 

They think their job is done once they have lead the horse to water…our point is that horse is not required to drink it.  This policy is out of balance and should not take an economics degree to understand.  I guess we are in agreement…again!”

Bruce Lackey, Chief Executive Officer
Happy Chicken Farms
eggman1@happychickenfarms.com

   
 

USDA Projection of 2016 and 2017 Egg Production

Aug 26, 2016

    

The USDA-ERS has issued an updated projection of egg production in 2016 and a forecast for 2017. Values are compared to 2015 which was impacted by the Spring outbreak of HPAI in the upper-Midwest.

   

Parameter                                   2015           2016 (projected)           2017 (forecast)      Difference ’16-‘17

EGGS

Production      ( m. dozen)              6,867*                  7,218                   7,355                  +1.8%           

Consumption   (eggs per capita)        253*                    265                      264                      +0.4%

New York price  (c/doz.)                    174*                      86                          98                     +13.9%                                    

Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook – August 19th 2016

*Affected by Spring HPAI outbreaks.

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

   
 

IB as Cause of High Mortality in Algeria Questioned

Aug 26, 2016

    

According to a ProMED posting the Director of Veterinary Services for Algeria, Dr. Ahmed Boughalem reported to the WHO three outbreaks of a disease in 30-week old laying hens characterized by respiratory signs and 50 percent mortality.  The diagnosis of IB was based on isolation of a coronavirus.

  

It is considered highly unlikely that severe mortality would be caused by IB alone especially in vaccinated flocks which is invariably the case in commercial production.  The situation brings to mind the quote from the character Fagin in the Broadway musical Oliver “I think I have to think it out again.”

Avian influenza would be high on the list of differential diagnosis.  It was noted by Dr. Eric Gingerich in a comment that infectious bronchitis is not a notifiable disease so it is questioned why the report was sent to the OIE by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries by the government of Algeria.

   
 

Ruby Tuesday Q4 Disappoints and Company to Close Stores

Aug 26, 2016

    

On August 11th Ruby Tuesday reported a loss of $27.6 million or 0.46 cents a share on sales of $279.3 million for the Fourth Quarter of Fiscal 2016.  Excluding asset repair and restructuring, the company generated a profit of 0.10 cents per share equivalent to the EPS during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Ruby Tuesday posted a decline of 3.7 percent in same-store sales compared to a 1.7 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2015. Traffic was off by 4.6 percent.

  

In commenting on results, J.J. Buettgen, CEO stated “Our fourth quarter was impacted by softness in the casual-dining industry and increased promotional activity by our peers.”

Justifying the decision to close 95 underperforming locations out of the 724 restaurants in the chain, Buettgen explained “Given that we expect the macro environment to remain challenging for some time we are taking the necessary steps to change the trajectory of our business.”

In addressing forward guidance, the company expects to improve same-store restaurant sales to a positive two percent for FY 2017 and to generate 0.11 cents EPS on sales of $285million.

   
 

Herbruck’s Comments on Conversion to Cage-Free Housing

Aug 26, 2016

    

In an MLive Media Group posting on August 12th, Greg Herbruck confirmed that the family-owned egg-production company which is the largest in Michigan and currently houses 8.5 million hens will convert to cage-free aviary units. 

New houses will comprise five levels holding 125,000 hens with a floor area slightly over one square foot per hen

  

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch intends to be completely cage-free by 2025 to satisfy the requirements of major customers including Costco Wholesale, Meijer and Kroger. Previously the state of Michigan agreed to transition to cage-free facilities by 2020.

The conversion will result in a higher cost of production and will involve retraining personnel to adapt to the needs of rearing and housing flocks.

   
 

AEB Promotes Egg Liquids with Real Eggs Egg Site

Aug 26, 2016

    

The AEB site directed to the baking industry www.realeggs.org features culinologist Mark Crowell of CuliNex.  The video and specific illustrations demonstrate the value of eggs compared to substitutes.  Studies are being conducted on chocolate cookies, sponge cake, sugar cookies, dough, batter cake, and blueberry muffins.

Generally it is shown that eggs promote superior batter viscosity, color and appearance of product and enhance flavor and texture.  The aroma of brownies is improved with inclusion of real eggs and in comparison studies, cheesecake made with whole eggs scored highest using trained evaluation panels.

  

The results of comparison studies depicted on videos and in data are intended to convince bakeries that switched to egg substitutes during the period of high prices following the outbreak of HPAI in the spring of 2015 to consider reverting to real eggs. 

The egg industry which funds the AEB should be proud of the quality of the presentation and the message to customers.

   
 

2016 Iowa Poultry Association Banquet and Education and Session

Aug 26, 2016

    

The Iowa Poultry Association Fall Festival Committee has announced the speakers and topics for the September 14th Award Banquet and the Breakfast to take place at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines.

Joe Kerns of Kerns and Associates will address economic factors influencing agriculture, commodity markets and the influence of political events at the banquet.

  

The omelet breakfast and education session on September 15th will include presentations by:-

  • Dr. Fidelis Hegngi of the Animal Plant and Inspection Service will speak on the Live Bird Marketing System
  • Dr. Yang Zhao of the Egg Industry Center will describe Current Research Projects
  • Bill Snow of Big Dutchman will discuss Management of Flocks in Floor Systems and Aviaries

The event is sponsored by a number of suppliers to the industry including Big Dutchman, Hy-Line North America, Henning Companies, Hendrix Genetics, Valco and Farm Credit Services of America among others.

Information on registration is available on www.iowapoultry.com

   
 

Highlights from the AEB Newsletter

Aug 25, 2016

    

The following talking points as publicized by the American Egg Board can be used to promote eggs:

  • Eggs for breakfast fight mid-day grogginess
  • Protein in the form of eggs at breakfast as a back-to-school routine
  • Stuffed eggs make a tasty lunchbox item
  • Incredible Breakfast Trends has now reached 50,000 foodservice professionals
  • Olympic medalists rely on eggs for optimal performance in swimming, running and boxing
   
   
 

Status of 2016 Corn and Soybean Crops

Aug 24, 2016

    

The USDA Crop Progress Report released Monday 22nd August indicated a continued favorable trend in corn and soybean crops in 18 states, expressed in the table below:-

                                                                            WEEK ENDING

Crop

August 14th

August 21st

5-Year Average

Corn dough

       73

 81

76

Corn dented

        21

             40

             35

Soybeans Blooming

        95

           100

           100

Soybeans setting pods

        80

89

             85

 

Crop Condition:

Crop

V. Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

Corn

2

 5

18

54

21 slightly changed

Soybeans

2

5

21

55

17 slightly changed

The prospects for corn and soybean growth and yield depend on adequate soil moisture. USDA reported data for 48 contiguous states which shows only minor changes from the previous week, as shown in the table below:-

                                Moisture Classification (%) for Week Ending August 21st.  

 

V. Short

Short

Adequate

Surplus

Topsoil

      8

19

61

12

Subsoil

7

20

64

 9

   
   
 

CME Prices

Aug 24, 2016

    

At the close of trading on August 19th CME rounded quotations for corn, soybeans and soybean meal with values for August 12th reflecting the months as indicated in parentheses were:-

COMMODITY
Corn (cents per bushel)                       Sept.   334      (323)       Dec.    344      (334)       
Soybeans (cents per bushel)              Sept. 1,027     (994)      Nov.  1,004     (983)  
Soybean meal ($ per ton)                    Sept    330       (339)      Dec     326      (329)   

September corn up 3.4 percent   (11 cents per bushel)
September Soybean meal down by 2.7 percent ($9 per ton).

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

See posting on the August USDA-WASDE Report #556 for an update on quantities and price projections for commodities

   
   

Shane Commentary

 

Italy Proposes Restrictions on Vegan Diets for Children

Aug 26, 2016

    

Based on demonstrated nutrient deficiencies in strict vegan diets which will affect the growth and development of children, an Italian lawmaker Elvira Savino, representing the conservative Forza Italia party has introduced legislation to ban the feeding of vegan diets to children. 

Recent cases of parents feeding diets devoid of all animal products including eggs and dairy foods has resulted in stunting and pediatric complications.  The proposed law would apply to minors up to the age of 16. Parents or caregivers would be subject to a four year prison sentence in the event of a deficiency syndrome or seven years imprisonment in the event of a fatality.

  

Savino stated “If even only one child ends up in hospital because of this behavior I feel we have to protect them all.”  It is her belief that pediatricians should be required to report parents to authorities if they believe that vegan diets are responsible any developmental abnormality.

By the same token, supplying children with raw milk also represents a form of abuse given the probability of infection with a number a bacterial pathogens including Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter and  E.coli.

   
 

MISINFORMATION ON SE DISSEMINATED IN DISTORTED REPORT

Aug 25, 2016

    

Dan Flynn writing in Food Safety News has rendered the U.S. egg production industry a disservice by dredging up anachronistic facts and recounting the 2010 episode of, SE attributed to Quality Egg LLC., operated by Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter.

  

Among many of the misconceptions amplified by Flynn include:

  • Estimates show 1 egg in 50 might be a danger to human health. This is absolute garbage and relates to an imperfect assessment reflecting the SE status of flocks in the late 1990s before intensified biosecurity, vaccination and surveillance were introduced. An egg from a flock or complex with a 15 or more year history of freedom from environmental SE will have a negligible probability of contamination. Given that less than 2 percent of commercial egg-producing flocks are positive by environmental monitoring, and that vertical transmission of the pathogen to eggs is limited by vaccination and that a cold chain is in effect from packing to point of sale, the number of eggs with viable SE capable of initiating an infection is infinitesimally low.  This is evidenced by the fact that there have been no confirmed SE outbreaks attributable to commercial egg-producing farms functioning under the Federal program, a State EQAP or a Company mandate.  Extrapolation by Flynn in 2016 using the discredited and unrealistic“1 in 50” proportion is disingenuous and he should know better.
  • The best thing you can do is to buy pasteurized eggs for use in your home kitchen and seek out restaurants that only serve pasteurized eggs. It is a matter of fact that pasteurized shell eggs represents less than one percent of the market despite having been introduced at the height of SE concern in the late 1990s.  In- shell pasteurized eggs have never gained traction in the marketplace. Interest in pasteurization for shell eggs, other than for immunosuppressed individuals, has sharply declined. This is based on the advances made by the egg production industry in the U.S. to eliminate infection, even before the FDA final rule on Salmonella was introduced in 2010.
  • We do think it’s time for USDA and FDA to move from the sidelines to the center of the housing debate with scientifically drawn criteria. The FDA was a late-comer to control of SE and their unilateral progress to the Final Rule and subsequent implementation in 2011 was less than efficient.  The USDA has in fact been promoting “family farm” and retrograde egg production systems despite the advantages in sustainability, hygiene and quality associated with commercial-scale production applying vertical or horizontal integration.  An example of the conflict faced by the regulatory agencies relates to the fact that producers are sanctioned if an FDA inspection reveals a hole in a structure larger than a quarter which can allow entry of mice yet the proposed USDA Certified Organic rules mandate entry and exit apertures measured in square feet to promote outside access for free-range flocks.  Egg producers are cognizant of the impact of house design, construction and finishes on hygiene and biosecurity and are well advised by in-house and consulting veterinarians and extension specialists as to requirements for healthy flocks.

It must be recognized that the DeCosters represented an aberration in the U.S. egg production industry.  Jack DeCoster has a long record of association with SE extending from his Turner, ME farm which precipitated the index case in Boston in 1985, an outbreak from a farm he operated in Maryland in 1987 and the most recent 2010 Iowa outbreak.  He and his son pleaded guilty to a number of misdemeanors have paid a substantial fine and are awaiting an appeal against three- month prison terms considered justified by the judge given the egregious deviations from industry standards, placing public health at risk and degrading the image of egg producers in the U.S.

Flynn questions whether QSRs, supermarkets and food service companies that have announced their intention to transition in sourcing eggs from caged to non-caged flocks have considered SE.  He should be aware that irrespective of housing, companies such as McDonald’s Corp and other large users of eggs impose standards of biosecurity and hygiene which exceed the somewhat deficient requirements of the FDA Final Rule which has no provision for vaccination and incorporates a program of flock surveillance inferior to that required by the United Egg producers and a leading cooperative producing and distributing branded eggs nationally.

   

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Mon Aug 29
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