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Posted by Brian Allmer on December 30, 2013

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“Smithfield Foods Business Looks Good Moving Into New Year”

Despite a 4.2-million dollar second quarter loss – Agri-Pulse reports Smithfield Foods President and CEO Larry Pope says the base business is fine. Pope says the numbers involved in the loss are a bit messy – and he believes this should be put aside until the beginning of 2014 when numbers become clearer and easier to understand. The company blames weak results in its pork division and 52-million dollars in expenses from its recent acquisition by Shuanghui International for the loss. Pope says Smithfield’s fresh pork business has been weak the entire fiscal year from closed markets in Russia and somewhat in China – and the yen-dollar exchange rate in Japan – which he says has significantly impacted the Japanese business. Packaged beef is very solid – according to Pope. He says 2014 looks very bright – and he expects hog production to have a strong year. Despite this loss – Pope says Smithfield Foods is in very good shape moving into 2014.

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“Russian Meat Ban Costly for U.S.”

Meatingplace reports U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says Russia’s ban on U.S. pork and beef products due to fears about ractopamine – which was imposed in February – has cost the U.S. 5 to 6-billion dollars since that time. McFaul says he will personally continue to work with Russia to get Moscow to remove this ban on U.S. meat imports. Close to two-dozen countries have approved ractopamine as safe to use – but several other countries – including the European Union, China and Taiwan – have joined Russia on banning the use of ractopamine.

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“USMEF Confident in Road Ahead for U.S. Pork in Taiwan”

Meanwhile – high-quality U.S. pork is becoming more and more popular in Taiwan. The U.S. Meat Export Federation recently held an event with support from the Pork Checkoff to help U.S. pork gain a larger share of the food service sector by capitalizing on demand for branded, premium pork dishes at high-end restaurants and hotels. USMEF-Taiwan Director Davis Wu says the finest hotels and restaurants want to distinguish themselves from their competition by serving distinctive dishes – such as dry-aged pork steaks and branded pork. Wu says raising the awareness of high-quality U.S. pork with this audience is a good step toward building consumer demand. During this event – celebrity chef Chen of ShenYen Teppenyaki entertained reporters by serving samples of different pork cuts with local ingredients. This event was part of a broader campaign with retail promotions and a rolling U.S. pork billboard that goes through Taipei and Ilan County in Taiwan. Wu says many consumers are unaware of the quality of U.S. pork and where it can be purchased. Seeing Chef Chen demonstrate easy-to-cook pork recipes while discussing positive attributes of U.S. pork for high-end foodservice sends a strong message to those chefs searching for unique food ingredients – according to Wu.

Taiwan is 94-percent self-sufficient in pork – but Taiwanese consumers enjoy more red meat than those in Japan and South Korea – and pork is their absolute favorite. Taiwan does have a zero tolerance for growth promotant residues – but USMEF has made inroads to expand the market for U.S. pork beyond the processing sector – providing growing opportunities for U.S. pork niche items – including natural pork and unique processed and branded items.

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“Public Comment Period Open for Export Credit Guarantee Program”

USDA is inviting the public to comment on proposed changes to the Export Credit Guarantee Program – GSM-102. This program provides credit guarantees to encourage financing of commercial exports of U.S. ag products to developing countries – while also providing competitive credit terms in those countries. The proposed rule revises and amends the regulations at 7 CFR part 1493 to incorporate operational changes implemented since the publication of the current rule – including other revisions to enhance clarity and program integrity. The proposed rule incorporates suggested changes received during the initial publication of the proposed rule on July 27, 2011. The deadline for comments is January 27, 2014. Visit www dot regulations dot gov (www.regulations.gov) for more information and to comment.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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