December 15, 2017 

Today's News Summary:

Opening the news today is word that poultry giant Sanderson Farms had a bone to pick with the National Football League when it released fourth-quarter and annual sales totals Thursday. Sanderson Farms CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. suggested NFL protests that involve players taking a knee during the national anthem have turned off fans who no longer flock to sports bars to devour chicken wings. "The NFL has hurt the wing stores,” Sanderson said during a conference call to discuss earnings. “There’s not as much traffic going through some of the wing places we service.”

In other news, farmers from Alabama and Nebraska and the Organization for Competitive Markets, a non-profit that works on competition issues in agriculture, filed a suit Thursday in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The “fair practice” rule addressed longstanding complaints from many beef, pork and poultry farmers who say meatpackers wield too much power over their businesses. Among other things, it said meat companies cannot break production contracts without notice, retroactively require costly investments in feeding facilities or block farmers from marketing their cattle or hogs.

The Campbell Soup Co. announced it has completed its $700 million acquisition of Pacific Foods of Oregon, a producer of organic broth and soup, shelf-stable plant-based beverages and meals and sides. The deal, which was announced in July, had been stalled by a lawsuit filed against Pacific Foods by a former shareholder. The acquisition expands Campbell Soup’s footprint in the $11 billion organic food and beverage category. Pacific Foods will join Campbell’s Americas Simple Meals and Beverages division, which is led by Mark Alexander, president, and includes brands such as Campbell’s, V8, Prego, Pace and Plum Organics.

Elsewhere, the outlook for the global poultry industry in 2018 is promising, with relatively positive fundamentals, according to Rabobank's Poultry Quarterly Q1 2018 report. But a disciplined supply growth strategy will be needed, especially as uncertainties are rising—such as the possible return of avian influenza (AI) during the northern hemisphere winter and a rising supply of competitive meat proteins like pork and beef.

The year to pass a new farm bill is 2018, and many have gotten a jump start on the process with learning sessions conducted in Indiana and across the country. The House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway from Texas is ready to go as well. Yesterday he announced a new farm bill website for updates and information throughout the process of creating the 2018 Farm Bill.

Finally today our weekly retail column looks at how there's less than two weeks till Christmas, and supermarket circulars are serving as holiday headquarters for party foods. Pork features took the top spot this week as holiday ham featuring surges; while beef comes in second. Seafood ads account for 21%, while chicken slides back to just 10%.

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By Linda Lindner

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