Ground beef info: Cargill announced last week its ground beef initiatives that include an array of informational tools for consumers ranging from enhanced labeling on ground beef products in the meat case to more fact-based material online, as well as a preprinted, on-pack, quick-response code for mobile devices. Cargill's ground beef information initiative includes a one-stop website, CargillGroundBeef.com, for consumers seeking information about ground beef and the certified ground beef brand. In addition, as of Jan. 20, all Cargill-branded, U.S.-produced, fresh, 100% ground beef products containing finely textured beef will carry a declaration of such on the product box's end labels.
Food Price Index: The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization's Food Price Index fell in January for the first time in three months as lower prices for cereals, sugars, oils and meat outstripped gains in dairy values. The index, based on the price of a basket of internationally traded food commodities, averaged 203.4 points in January, down 1.3% from December and down 4.4% from January 2013. Sugar and vegetable oils took downward turns of 5.6% and 3.8%, respectively. Meanwhile, bumper cereal crops helped tamper cereal prices, which were down 1.6% from December and as much as 23% lower than in January 2013. Even meat prices, which had strengthened over the past few months, fell slightly in January.
Beef plant: Cargill's beef processing facility in Schuyler, Neb., has temporarily closed due to a fire and ammonia leak that occurred Feb. 6. Cargill spokesman Michael Martin said the cause of the fire and ammonia leak is unknown, but no one was injured. As result, both production shifts were canceled on Thursday. An early evaluation showed no damage to meat products, but a further assessment will be conducted. Cargill is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine if the plant can start production again.