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Europe approves lactic acid for beef

The European Commission has approved the use of lactic acid on bovine carcasses to decrease microbial contamination, according to an announcement.

The measure takes effect Feb. 25.

The European Food Safety Authority conducted a risk assessment two years ago and published an opinion on July 26, 2011, that lactic acid is efficacious and safe.

Lactic acid has been in use in U.S. meat plants for decades as a pathogen reduction technology, and the commission's approval will facilitate U.S. beef trade to Europe, the American Meat Institute said in a statement Feb. 6.

Roullier buys 50% of Magnesium Do Brasil

France-based Roullier Group has acquired 50% of independent magnesia producer Magnesium Do Brasil, a Brazilian company owned by the Franck family.

Magnesium Do Brasil's production capacity in 2010 was 20,000 tons per year of caustic calcined magnesia sourced from its two magnesite mines. Jucas and Pitombeiros, in the Ceara state of Brazil, it has since installed a second 170-ton-per-day shaft kiln to raise its capacity. It also has direct access to two ports.

Magnesium do Brasil has been a commercial partner with the Roullier Group for a few years and the companies share similar long-term development goals, the announcement said.

Magnesium do Brasil supplies the magnesium market in South America from its own mines. Located in northeast Brazil, the firm has direct access to two ports, which allows easy export access to major international markets.

Based in Dinard, France, family-owned Roullier owns 14 business lines split into three divisions, managing phosphates, magnesia and industrial solutions.

The company has focused more on the magnesia division in recent times, which consists mainly of TIMAB and Magnesitas Navarras. TIMAB is a 100% owned subsidiary that manufactures magnesia and phosphate products for the fertilizer and animal feed industries. TIMAB North America has offices in Minneapolis, Minn.

Magnesitas Navarras, which is jointly owned by Roullier (60%) and Grecian Magnesite SA (40%) since 2000, is a Spanish magnesia producer that produces magnesia for the refractory and fertilizer industries.

In January 2012, Roullier acquired a 50% stake in Dutch magnesia processor and distributor Van Mannekus & Co. BV, which was previously owned by Possehl Erzkontor GmbH.

Hillshire, Hormel acquisitions complete

The Hillshire Brands Co. has reported the completion of the company's sale of its Australian bakery business, Kitchens of Sara Lee Pty Ltd., to McCain Foods Australia Pty Ltd. for $82 million (Australian, $85 million U.S.). An agreement for the sale was announced in December (Feedstuffs, Dec. 24, 2012).

The bakery business employs 500 people and sells bakery products to foodservice and retail customers in Australia and throughout the Asian Pacific.

Hillshire, created last year in its spinoff from Sara Lee Corp. (Feedstuffs, July 9, 2012), is a meat-centric food producer that markets under the Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Jimmy Dean and other brands.

Hormel acquires Skippy

Hormel Foods Corp. has reported the completion of the company's acquisition of the Skippy peanut butter business in the U.S. from Unilever United State Inc.

Hormel announced last month an agreement for the acquisition, which also includes Skippy's operations in China, for $700 million and said it anticipates completing the acquisition of the Chinese division soon.

JBS leases chicken plant

JBS S.A., the largest beef processor in Brazil with developing interests in chicken and dairy production, has announced that it has signed a five-year lease -- with a provision to extend the lease for an additional five years -- to operate the chicken processing facilities of Tramonto Alimentos S.A. in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina.

JBS said production will incorporate its chicken growing operations in the region and will primarily serve export markets.

JBS, which is the majority owner of Pilgrim's Pride Corp. in the U.S., has been building an interest in chicken production and processing in Brazil through either acquisitions or similar leases (Feedstuffs, May 7, 2012).

Hubbard finalizing expansion in specialty chickens

Chicken genetics organization Hubbard last week has reported that the company is finalizing a multi-million dollar investment in its research and development center for the Hubbard Color product range in St. Loup d'Ordon just south of Paris, France.

The company said it has demolished and rebuilt eight breeding houses and plans to build four additional houses on the site, using the highest standards for bio-security and most recent technologies.

The Hubbard Color line meets demand from specialty markets such as free-range and organic chickens that are grown in response to demand "for taste, tradition and quality," according to the announcement.

The line includes a broad range of female and male chicken breeding stock, from which customers can order their own combination of genetics. The line includes Redbro, P6N and JA genetics.

Eckrich rolls out line for bacon lovers

Bacon lovers now have something to especially love as Eckrich has announced a national rollout of its "Bacon Lovers Deli Meats," first introduced last year and now available in grocery stores across the U.S.

The rollout allows consumers "to get the bacon experience they crave with the deli meats they love," the announcement said.

The Eckrich line includes Bacon Covered Club, Bacon Covered Ham, Bacon Ranch Chicken Breast, Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast with Bacon and Peppered Bacon Covered Roast Beef.

The rollout is accompanied by a 10-month national advertising campaign that reinforces the concept that bacon makes everything taste better, according to Elizabeth Di John, brand manager for Eckrich deli meats. The campaign includes recipes that are available at www.Facebook.com/EckrichMeats.

Bacon Lovers Deli Meats is "a unique and fun line in the deli category," Di John said. Consumers "continually express their enthusiasm and excitement for bacon and for new ways to enjoy it," she said, and this line places real bacon in the deli meats they want.

Eckrich is part of John Morrell Food Group, which is a business of Smithfield Foods Inc., the largest hog and pork producer in the U.S.

Iowa launches farm animal care coalition

Calling it a first-of-its-kind effort, Iowa farmers, veterinarians and experts in animal well-being recently launched a centralized resource where Iowans can receive information about appropriate farm animal care. The Iowa Farm Animal Care (IFAC) Coalition is designed to answer questions, provide resources, and facilitate “concerned citizen reports.”

Modeled after a similar program in Alberta, Canada, IFAC is the result of collaboration among the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Farmers understand that consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and how it was raised. IFAC is available to help increase public understanding,” said Denny Harding, IFAC’s executive director. “Until now, there has not been a centralized place where Iowans could go for farm animal care information.”

Harding said IFAC’s website and toll-free help line provide that information, providing consumers with details of how “responsible farmers” care for their animals, and allowing citizens to report a concern, of if they see something on a farm they do not understand.

Because of the collaboration with the university and department of agriculture, IFAC also provides farmers with access to animal care experts who specialize in animal care. An independent team of experts will perform voluntary on-site farm evaluations to ensure appropriate farm animal care is being given.

“I think the overwhelming majority of farmers today are doing a great job handling farm animals and have their best interests in mind when it comes to their health and environment,” said Suzanne Millman, associate professor of animal welfare at Iowa State. “Different species have different behaviors that require different care. IFAC can help provide farmers with the latest in animal care research, while ensuring that appropriate care is being given and answering consumer questions.”

Feedstuffs In Focus: Editor Andy Vance discussed the new Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition with the group’s executive director Denny Harding in a recent edition of Feedstuffs In Focus, the podcast of big news in agriculture. You can listen to the interview here. You can read more about the coalition in the Jan. 28 edition of Feedstuffs.

Zoetis prices initial public offering

Zoetis, formerly the animal health business unit of Pfizer Inc., announced January 31 the pricing of its initial public offering of 86,100,000 shares of its Class A common stock at $26 per share. The shares are began trading Feb. 1 on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ZTS.”

Zoetis will not receive any of the proceeds of the offering. Following the completion of the initial public offering, Pfizer will own 100% of the outstanding Class B common stock of Zoetis and will retain an approximately 83% ownership of Zoetis.

The underwriters also have an option to purchase up to an additional 12,915,000 shares of Class A common stock. Zoetis will not receive any of the proceeds from any shares sold pursuant to this option. If the underwriters exercise this option in full, Pfizer is expected to retain an approximately 80% ownership of Zoetis.

J.P. Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley served as joint lead book-running managers for the offering. Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Guggenheim Securities and Jefferies served as book-running managers for the offering. BNP PARIBAS, HSBC, Loop Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets, The Williams Capital Group, L.P. and UBS Investment Bank served as senior co-managers for the offering. Lebenthal Capital Markets, Piper Jaffray and Ramirez & Co., Inc. served as co-managers for the offering.

Zoetis (zo-EH-tis) is the world's leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, with a focus on both farm and companion animals. The company generated annual revenue of $4.2 billion in fiscal 2011. Zoetis has more than 9,500 employees and a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries.