May 26, 2017  

Today's News Summary:

 Today's news opens reporting that as part of its strategy to grow from $10 billion in annual sales today to $15 billion in annual sales across its global business by 2022, Taco Bell announced at its 2017 investor and analyst day its plans to add restaurants domestically, and revealed four key international markets that it will focus on as it continues to grow as a global brand.

On other news, our weekly retail column takes a look at how for Memorial Day weekend, beef features make up 27% of total protein ad volume, while seafood claims 23%. Chicken features account for 22% of the mix, while pork comes in with 18%. In the beef complex, steaks have 48% of feature volume, while ground beef ads hold 32%. The steak complex averages $7.29 per lb., down 38 cents per lb. from a year ago. Porterhouse, bone-in strip, and top sirloin steaks are all featured below year ago levels, while bone-in rib and boneless shell steaks are priced higher. Ground beef prices are up slightly over a year ago this week, at $3.71 per lb. for 80% lean. Memorial Day is a notorious burger holiday at retail as an easy, cost-effective way to feed large gatherings from the grill.

The robust American organic sector stayed on its upward trajectory in 2016, gaining new market share and shattering records, as consumers across the United States ate and used more organic products than ever before, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2017 Organic Industry Survey released Wednesday at OTA’s Annual Policy Conference.

Smithfield Foods announced that it is investing more than $45 million to expand its blast cell cold storage capabilities at its processing facility in Tar Heel, N.C. The investment will create approximately 30 new jobs at the Tar Heel facility as well as new employment positions within Smithfield’s logistics partner.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) opened its Spring Conference Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia, with an extensive discussion of the current international trade environment and a review of year-to-date export results for U.S. pork, beef and lamb. The federation also announced the successor to longtime USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng, as Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing, will become president on Sept.1 and assume the title of president and CEO on Dec. 1. Seng will remain with the organization as CEO emeritus through July 2018.

Lastly, the restaurant industry is facing its most challenging environment since the Great Recession. Technomic's recently released restaurant forecast suggest that despite expected growth above 3% for 2017 and 2018, growth will come from menu price increases and positive menu mix shifts rather than all-important traffic gains. The bottom line is that fewer consumers are visiting restaurants less often than they were a few years ago.

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By Linda Lindner

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