August 22, 2017

Today's News Summary:

Leading the headlines today is word from Smithfield Foods that it will build a new distribution center and expand its blast cell cold storage capabilities at its processing facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Smithfield will invest $100 million and add approximately 250 new jobs to bring both projects to life. In addition to the new positions, additional employment opportunities will also be available within Smithfield's logistics partner.

In other news, Walmart and a group of food giants are teaming up with IBM to explore how to apply blockchain technology, also known as distributed ledger tech, to their food supply chains. The coalition includes retailers and food companies such as Unilever, Nestlé , and Dole (dole). They will be aiming to use blockchains, a technology that made its name as the basis of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to maintain secure digital records and improve the traceability of their foodstuffs, like chicken, chocolate, and bananas.

The United States has requested a World Trade Organization panel be set up to investigate Chinese tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) for agricultural products, the WTO said on Monday, setting up a showdown between the two largest economies. The row, which includes tariffs for wheat, rice, and corn, was initiated under the Obama administration which sought consultations on Dec. 15, but now the Trump administration has moved ahead with a formal request.

Two of 114 egg samples tested in Italy have shown traces of the insecticide fipronil, Italy's health ministry said Monday, making the country the latest to become embroiled in a Europe-wide scandal. The ministry did not specify where the insecticide traces were found. The samples came from Italian and imported eggs or from food containing eggs. Fipronil is commonly used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks from animals but the European Union has banned its use in the food industry.

Discounter Lidl has leapfrogged upmarket Waitrose in Britain's competitive food retail market, industry data showed on Tuesday, a sign that cash-strapped shoppers are still having to count their pennies. Lidl and rival German discounter Aldi have steadily cut into the market shares of Britain's big four supermarket chains - leader Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - with aggressive store openings fuelling their sales growth.

Back in the States, corn conditions in the 18 major producing states held even with the previous week in the latest Crop Progress report with 62% of the crop rated in good to excellent condition. That is down from a 75% combined rating a year ago.

Finally today, Maryland state and local dignitaries joined descendants of chicken business and advertising icon Frank Perdue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Perdue family farmhouse and its inclusion in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. The farmhouse, which is part of the company’s logo and located across the street from the corporate offices of Perdue Farms, was built in 1917 by Arthur W. Perdue. Three years later, he founded on his family farm what would become Maryland’s third-largest company and the country’s most famous brand of chicken.

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By Linda Lindner

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