Cornucopia Institute Opposes Large-Scale Organic Production

Feb 12, 2016

The Cornucopia Institute, the principal protagonist for “small organic” recently published an infographic entitled – Who Owns Organic? This is the brainchild of Dr. Phillip H. Howard, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University.

It is apparently of concern to both Dr. Howard and the Cornucopia Institute that the numbers of organic processors have shrunk by 80 percent from 81 independent companies in 1995 to 15 in 2015. This change is due to acquisition of organic processors by large food manufacturers. This trend is not necessarily either good or bad. We remind Cornucopia of the reality that organic is organic is organic!  Why is an organic product from a large company somehow less “organic” than from a family-owned farm? Irrespective of origin all certified organic products must conform to the USDA-AMS NOP.

Perhaps the Cornucopia Institute should examine the viability of organic producers who require economies of scale, subsidies and USDA support to survive. To prosper, any enterprise requires application of production, processing, marketing and distribution, all under effective management and coordination to function in a competitive environment.

Apparently Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute considers that the purchase of organic companies by large corporations is inherently wrong especially if the source of products is “hidden from consumers”.  The transactions he cites were all publicized at the time, having involved mostly public-traded acquirers.

Kastel should be happy that large companies are expanding organic production and making organic products available to a wider range of consumers at ever decreasing prices, based on efficiency of scale and utilization of assets and resources.

Effectively Kastel is concerned that less-efficient smaller enterprises will continue to be acquired if their purchase provides value to the shareholders of large companies.  The basic and underlying concern of the Cornucopia Institute is that less-efficient smaller companies producing organic products will be out-sold in the marketplace and will fall to the realities of a free market economy.  It is evident that the Cornucopia Institute would much prefer a level of organic production dominated by small-scale producers selling at high prices rather than a larger organic market providing less-expensive items. This begs the question whether the Cornucopia Institute is really interested in promoting the attributes of organic products or has a narrow focus of protecting the profitability of their supporters who produce expensive products for an affluent clientele to the detriment of most consumers


Egg Industry News


WHO Commission on Childhood Obesity

Feb 10, 2016

EGG-CITE has commented previously on childhood nutrition and the value of eggs in a balanced diet.

The World Health Organization Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) has presented a report to the Director General relating to childhood obesity.  In 2014, 48 percent of all overweight and obese children under the age of five lived in Asia and 25 percent were resident in Africa.

The ECHO Report contains the following recommendations:-

  • Promote the intake of healthy foods
  • Reduce the intake of unhealthy foods including sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Enhance preventive care before conception and during pregnancy
  • Improve early childhood diets by limiting food high in fat, sugar and salt
  • Create a favorable school environment including literacy and physical activity
  • Implement weight management through education

The recommendations, essentially developed for non-industrialized nations could justifiably be applied in the U.S. especially among the low-income demographic.


Recall of Pistachios Due to Salmonella Contamination

Feb 10, 2016


According to a FDA press release dated February 1st, Braga Organic Farms has announced a voluntary recall of pistachios due to Salmonella (serotype not specified) contamination.  Routine testing by the FDA revealed the presence of the pathogen in a one-pound package of pistachio kernels.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the recall.

This report adds to the list of non-protein foods potentially contaminated with Salmonella and emphasizes the fact that the USDA Certified Organic seal is unrelated to food safety.


USPOULTRY Feed Mill Management Seminar

Feb 10, 2016



The annual USPOULTRY Feed Mill Management Seminar will take place on March 16th – 17th at the DoubleTree Hotel in Nashville TN.  The seminar will include presentations on practical aspects to improve efficiency; automation, FSMA compliance and the role of feed mills in disseminating pathogens including avian influenza. 

For further details and for registration access www.uspoultry.org




Feb 10, 2016

Nutriad has reported on analysis of samples of corn derived from the 2015 harvest in Spain. The survey conducted by Nutriad documented contamination with a broad range of toxins. The severe drought is attributed to weather patterns affected by the ongoing severe El Nino.

Figure 1Percentage of positive samples (>LOQ)

A 50 ppb (micrograms per kg)  level of aflatoxin is usually downgraded at receiving elevators in the U.S.

Maize plants drought Central Europe RB


USDA Weekly Price and Inventory Report, February 8th 2016.

Feb 10, 2016

Midwest-wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large sizes fell by 2 percent this past week following a 17 percent increase last week. The market stabilized three weeks ago and then increased in contrast to successive double digit percentage drops over the preceding four weeks. Demand may be attributed to colder weather and a seasonal trend.  The Indiana outbreak of LPAI which has been eradicated probably had a transitory effect on prices in mid- to late January.

The USDA Combined Region value for Large commodity eggs which lags the Midwest quotation by one week, rose by 24 cents to $1.69 per dozen, compared to the 12-month trailing peak price of $2.77 in mid-August 2015.  The USDA Combined range for Large which lags by one week increased by 24 cents per dozen to $1.61 cents per dozen in the Midwest and by 25 cents per dozen to $1.76 per dozen in the South Central Region. The Combined Regional price has swung 60 cents per dozen in 3 weeks to about 10 cents per dozen above the 3-year average.

The three-week trend suggests stable to slightly lower prices through February consistent with the pattern in early 2015, especially with the National flock down by 20 to 23 million hens, albeit with over 80 percent of this loss in the breaking segment of the Industry. The evident week-to-week fluctuation in shell egg inventory is still of concern. The stock of generic eggs increased by 7.6 percent this past week following the 4.3 percent increase recorded during the previous week. Although this is consistent with seasonal trends, prices will be weighted by volume produced in the Midwest relative to regional demand.



Feb 10, 2016

Consistent with the move towards store brands, Target has embarked on extensive updating of the Market Pantry brand comprising almost 2000 products in 100 categories.

According to a report in Supermarket News on February 4, the company will release new packaging for dairy items following availability. The packaging for all other products will be phased in through 2016.

In commenting on the initiative, Amanda Irish, VP of Merchandising for Target’s Owned Brands noted, “It turns out guests love Market Pantry taste, quality and price but they thought the packaging designs fell a little flat”.  She added, “Target is known for great design but the current generic look and feel of Market Pantry wasn’t reflecting the reality”.


CME Prices and Corn Quality for 2015 Harvest

Feb 9, 2016

At close of trading on February 5th  CME quotations for corn, soybeans and soybean meal (with February 2nd values in parentheses) were:-

Corn (cents per bushel)         March ‘16  365.4 (369.6)               July  ‘16  375.4 (379.0)
Soybeans (cents per bushel)  March ‘16  866.6 (879.4)               July  ’16  878.4 (886.4)
Soybean meal ($ per ton)      March ’16   265.1 (269.1)              July  ‘16  269.5 (274.2)

The U.S. Grains Council www.grains.org issued a report on December 17th 2015 relating to the quality of the 2015 harvest as quantified in the January 12th USDA WASDE Report attaining 13,601 million bushels.     

The key values as determined were:-

  • 94.0 percent at Quality Grade 2 or higher.
  • Average test weight of 58.2 lbs per bushel
  • 96.1 percent within the range of Grade 2 for total damage to kernels
  • 98.0 percent within the range of Grade 2 for broken kernels and foreign material
  • 15.7 percent moisture content at elevators.
  •   8.2 percent crude protein content expressed as dry matter
  •   3.7 percent oil content expressed as dry matter
  •  All samples below 50 ppb aflatoxin  FDA Action Level

For each 10 cent per bushel change in corn:-

     The cost of egg production would change by 0.45 cent per dozen

     The cost of broiler production would change by 0 .25 cent per pound  live weight

For each $10 per ton change in the cost of soybean meal:-

       The cost of egg production would change by 0.40 cent per dozen

       The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per live pound live weight



Feb 9, 2016

The February USDA WASDE projections for the 2015 corn and soybean crops were understandably unchanged from the January 2015 values based on completion of the harvest. Ending stocks were up by 1.9 percent to 1,837 million bushels for corn and up 2.3 percent to 450 million bushels for soybeans.

The corn harvest remained at 13,601 million bushels based on a yield of 168.4 bushels per acre. Area harvested remained at 80.7 million acres. The “Feed and Residual”, “Food and Seed” and the “Ethanol and By-products (DDGS)” categories were only slightly changed as documented in the subsequent tables. Diversion of corn to ethanol was increased by 25 million bushels to 5,225 million bushels or 33.9 percent of the projected availability despite projections of lower U.S. fuel demand.

The increase in “Ending Stocks” by 35 million bushels was partly attributed to a 50 million bushel decline in the “Exports” category. The Stock-to-Domestic Use relationship increased numerically to 15.4 percent, from 15.2 percent in the January WASDE Report. The projected USDA range in farm price for corn narrowed with a rise of 5 cents per bushel on the low end and a reduction of 5 cents per bushel on the high end of the range in the January WASDE Report to 335 to 385 cents per bushel.

The RFS for 2016 was set at 18.11 billion gallons by the EPA on November 30th. (See Editorial in CHICK-CITE). The value was 4 percent higher than the May 2015 proposal of 17.4 billion gallons. The supply of ethanol exceeds the U.S. demand by about 7 percent, based on a 10 percent blend rate, resulting in the need to export of this commodity. Crude (WTI) oil fluctuated from $28 to $32 per barrel in January and is hovering at $30 per barrel in early February, despite the actions of OPEC and other producers. The prevailing low oil price reflects a slowing of World economic activity and increased oil and gas production in North America and unrestricted output from Saudi Arabia as factors determining the balance between supply and demand. It is noteworthy that China has displaced the U.S. as the largest importer of crude oil having attained a high degree of self-sufficiency.

At the close of trading on February 9th, quotations for March and July 2016 corn on the CME were 361 cents and 371 cents per bushel respectively.


MPF Convention to Feature Cage-Free Program.

Feb 5, 2016

The organizers of the Midwest Poultry Federation will respond to current trends by featuring cage-free production in the annual Simmering Issues Workshop. A panel will review the cage-free movement from several perspectives and will encourage audience participation. The session will take place on Thursday, March 17th from 09h30 to10h30 in Exhibit Hall C. For additional details including panelists access <midwestpoultry.com>



Feb 5, 2016

Following an abandoned legal dispute with Hampton Creek a public-relations savvy upstart, over Just Mayo®  an egg-free ersatz mayonnaise, Unilever has launched their Carefully Crafted® Hellmann’s Dressing and Sandwich Spread”.  The product is labeled “free from cholesterol, eggs, artificial colors and flavors”.  Given the product attributes, consumer recognition of the Hellmann’s brand together with Unilever marketing clout, Hampton Creek have raised a sleeping giant. Unilever has infinite resources including technical expertise, production capacity and market strength.

Since “Just Mayo®” appears to be the major source of revenue for Hampton Creek to date, their promise to produce a range of vegetable-based egg substitutes needs to be expedited if the company is to achieve prestated growth and to provide a return to investors. EGG-CITE and business publications have commented on claims by co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick, to disrupt and revolutionize the food industry. 

Many of these statements including the potential to replace hens with peas may appear in retrospect to conform to the legal definition of “puffery”. The real question is how will justify the claimed investment of $100 million in his company, given the limited resources and personnel applied to grandiose-sounding projects when all he has to show is a less than unique re-labeled sandwich spread.



Feb 5, 2016

According to a January 30, 2016 ProMED posting, the CDC is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Virchow attributed to consumption of a nutritional supplement branded as an obvious oxymoron, Garden of Life.  The pathogen has been identified in patients in seven states with eight culture-confirmed cases.  Product manufactured after November 1, 2015 has been recalled. 

This case demonstrates the risk associated with consumption of nutritional supplements manufactured by small companies and distributed nationwide through health food stores and “natural” grocers.



Feb 5, 2016

Ajinomoto Heartland Inc., has announced that production of feed-grade tryptophan will commence from a plant to be erected in Eddyville, IA.  Currently this amino acid is imported from Asia or the EU.  According to a February 2nd press release, the plant will be completed in May 2017 and will have a capacity of 3,000 tons per year.



Feb 4, 2016

Orka, manufacturers of a comprehensive range of egg testing equipment introduced the Wireless Egg Node™ at 2016 IPPE.

This electronic egg has the equivalent shape and weight of an extra-large size egg but is filled with electronic sensors.  The tri-axis high-speed accelerometer measures G-force in three planes.   A temperature sensor is located in the center of the unit. 

The egg is designed to record vibrations, tilt, shock, and acceleration in addition to temperature when passing through a collecting system extending from the egg-belt to point of sale. 

The electronic egg operates in three modes:

  • Continuous sampling
  • Periodic burst sampling
  • Data logging

The forces exerted on the electronic egg can be observed in real time as the egg transmits data which is viewed using a laptop offering 200 ft. to 1 mile line of sight reception. Multiple eggs can be deployed, with simultaneous wireless reception using the network support. 

The electronic egg us compatible with U.S. FCC and Canadian IC regulations.

The standard Egg Node set includes a carrying case, base station and antenna, USB communication cable, Node Commander software and AC charger.

The Orka Wireless Egg Node™ is ideal for evaluating the integrity of conveying systems, ascertaining the effect of accumulators, grading and post-pack handling.  The electronic egg can be used for routine quality control for in-line complexes and packing plants, for diagnostic examinations and as an aid in the design and calibration of conveyors and graders.

For further information access the Orka Food Technology website www.eggtester.com or Katz Yoshida CEO yoshida@orkatech.com





Feb 4, 2016

Val-Co® introduced the HyperMAX™ 54 inch fiberglass fan at the 2016 IPPE.  The model with an aluminum blade displaces 30,500 CFM at a static water pressure of 0.15 inches powered by a 2HP motor moving air with an efficiency of 16 CFM/watt.  The steel blade model is fractionally less efficient with a displacement of 15.9 CFM/watt.

The motor mount and drive assembly incorporate a box-frame design to increase the life span of the motor.  Pillow block bearings are self-aligning and are pre-lubricated.  The fan is supplied with a compatible fiberglass cone and PVC shutters with a stay-put feature are available.

For further information access www.vil-co.com or phone (800) 998-2526.


Eggs Cargo System® Displayed at IPPE

Feb 4, 2016

Twin Pack® Special Products demonstrated the Eggs Cargo System® which has been used in Europe for 15 years.  The system comprises pallets which have a capacity of 12,960 eggs equipped with a micro-chip for tracking and tracing. 

The trays are compatible with all de-palletizers and dividers lock the trays in position to reduce breakage.  All plastic material is completely recyclable and the plastic is compatible with commercial cleaning equipment.

Given the potential for reintroduction of avian influenza to the U.S. on a seasonal basis, the use of wooden pallets and plywood dividers is no longer acceptable from the perspective of biosecurity. Biological material including egg remnants can harbor pathogens including Salmonella and influenza virus. 

Many companies sourcing eggs from contractors have replaced conventional racks with cargo systems which can be decontaminated at the plant before return to supply farms.


Egg Industry Center to Present 8th Annual Issues Forum

Feb 4, 2016

The 8th Annual Egg Industry Issues Forum will take place at the Embassy Suites, Chicago Downtown Hotel on Wednesday April 20th through April 21st 2016. 

The Wednesday program will commence at 13H00 with the Don Bell Memorial Lecture entitled Global Protein Uptake delivered by Brett Stewart, Global AgriTrends. 

Other significant presentations will include:

  • Vision for the Future by the newly appointed AEB president, Anne Alonzo
  • Lessons Learned from Moving an Industry to Cage-Free Production by Rudy Preisinger, Lohmann
  • Considerations in Building the Facilities of the Future, Tom Lohr, Henning Companies
  • The Egg Industry- A Lender’s Perspective, Jeff Coit, Farm Credit Services of America

The afternoon session on Thursday April 21st will include a post-forum workshop on Best Management Practices for Biosecurity.

For further information regarding registration access www.eggindustrycenter.org


Shane Commentary


Importance of Food Evangelists

Feb 11, 2016

Ketchum a prominent public relations consulting group has issued their 4th annual Food 2020 Study.  The report notes the importance of “Food eVangelists” who appear highly skeptical of industrial-scale food and beverage production.

Ketchum considers that the number of consumers concerned over food safety and quality is increasing although their figure of 14 percent appears high without independent statistical confirmation.

The Ketchum reports notes that industry should reach out to critics of industrial food production using social media. The report characterizes food evangelists as “critics and people to be dealt with”

The study found that 54 percent of food evangelists believe that the best food comes from local farmers and they trust small stores rather than supermarkets.

The opposite is also true in that recently adverse publicity has unmasked puffery and hype advanced by some chains claiming that “non-GMO” and “natural” are superior to conventional products. This has damaged the image of “food evangelist” and has disillusioned “foodies” representing an affluent, frequently misinformed demographic concerned over their health and their well-being of their children.


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Thu Feb 11
 Corn3.60 $/bu
 Soybeans8.74 $/bu
 Soybean Meal263.70 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer110  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 155-158 ¢/doz