Editorial


Questionable Significance of a Study Purporting to Demonstrate that a Yeast Product can Suppress Salmonella Braenderup

10/25/2018

A supplier of a widely used yeast supplement recently circulated a promotional circular demonstrating the apparent ability of feces from hens fed the product to suppress Salmonella Branderup in vitro. The obvious motivation for the in vitro study conducted by the company was to demonstrate apparent bactericidal or bacteristatic action of the supplement on Salmonella Braenderup as previously claimed for Salmonella Enteritidis.

EGG-NEWS consistently supports scientific advances and comments on research which may have practical implications for sustainability, flock health or safety. On the distaff side, EGG-NEWS will always question promotional claims which lack scientific substance or are based on supposition or speculation especially when appealing to the cupidity of those who are unable to evaluate data or are subject to coercive marketing.

The promotional release describes the evaluation as an “intestinal activity modifier model”. Basically hens were fed the yeast product and excreta was assayed for volatile fatty acid content. In addition, the effect of feces from treated hens compared to controls was evaluated for the ability to suppress Salmonella Braenderup in vitro.

The release demonstrated a statistically significant increase in volatile fatty acids, which is biologically plausible and consistent with administration of a prebiotic to hens. The significance of the increase in volatile fatty acids in relation to the probability of infection of a flock with Salmonella Branderup was not addressed. The ability of the increased volatile fatty acids content of the terminal intestinal tract to actually reduce the level of shell contamination with Salmonella Braenderup was beyond the scope of the study but obviously relevant to the real-world situation..

The second aspect of the in vitro evaluation was the claim that supplementing diets with the yeast product suppressed Salmonella Braenderup. There was no description of the procedure used but data demonstrated that the level of Salmonella Braenderup was reduced from 6.86 log to 5.92 log per gram of feces representing a 0.94 log reduction. Again, the practical or epidemiologic significance is questioned of a ten-fold reduction in the quantum of Salmonella Braenderup as a result of supplementing diets with the yeast product.

It is generally accepted in the U.S. egg industry that the problem of Salmonella Braenderup attributed to the farm in question was due to environmental and operational factors specific to the complex, leading to the limited outbreak among consumers. There is no evidence that Salmonella Braenderup is widely distributed in the U.S. egg industry as evidenced by the fact that only one egg-attributed outbreak has occurred over many decades of public health surveillance of Salmonella.

The epidemiologic significance of the in vitro study is obviously in question and a cynical approach would be to conclude that the manufacturer was stretching microbiology to promote a product of questionable value with respect to suppressing potential salmonellosis among consumers. 

It would have been more acceptable if the company in question had demonstrated that hens fed the supplement were refractory to intestinal colonization following challenge or that meaningful suppression of Salmonella Branderup could be achieved by dietary supplementation. The approach taken by the company would be more credible had the study been published in a peer reviewed journal.

Research conducted by Land-grant universities, institutes and the R & D departments of biopharmaceutical companies is intended to confirm safety and efficacy of products to suppress flock infection leading to foodborne diseases. Positive results, subject to peer review or FDA scrutiny allow compounds to be registered for a specific use. Commercial acceptability depends on demonstrated efficacy and cost-benefit. Performing studies of dubious scientific merit to   promote a product is sophistry and the principle is even more egregious when based on concern and fear arising from severe financial loss due to a pathogen of limited significance.

The draft of this editorial was submitted to a technical service veterinarian of the company concerned with an offer to post a rebuttal of the points raised. No response was obtained within two weeks-Editor.


 

Egg Industry News


WEEKLY COMMODITY REPORT

11/09/2018

According to the November 8th 2018 WASDE Report #583, 81.8 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2018 to produce 14.62 Billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.60 Billion bushels from 88.3 million acres harvested. The levels of production for the two commodities are based on revised projections of yield and acreage harvested. Ending stocks were revised based on anticipated domestic use and exports.

See the WASDE posting summarizing the November 8th USDA-WASDE Report #583 in this edition documenting price projections and quantities of commodities to be produced, used and exported from the 2018 harvest

Quarterly corn and soybean stocks were estimated by USDA in a release on September 28th to total 2.14 Billion bushels (14.7 percent of the 2017 harvest) and 0.44 Billion bushels (10.0 percent of 2017 harvest) respectively. Of the "old soy crop" 0.10 Billion bushels are held as on-farm storage, up 15 percent from the corresponding period in 2017. Off-farm storage is up 58 percent to 0.34 billion bushels. Disappearance from June to August was 0.78 Billion bushels, up 18 percent from the corresponding period in 2017. This reflects accelerated shipments in anticipation of increased tariffs imposed by China. Since August soybean exports to China have ceased.

The following quotations for the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on November 9th together with values for the corresponding months in parentheses confirmed a slight decline in prices after an upturn during the previous week.

COMMODITY

 

Corn (cents per bushel)

Dec.'18 369 (371)

March '19 380 (383)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

Nov. '18 875 (874)

March '19 899 (899)

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

Dec. '18 306 (311)

March '19 311 (315)

Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal were:-

COMMODITY CHANGE FROM PAST WEEK____________________

Corn: Dec. quotation down 2 cents per Bu. (-0.5 percent)

Soybeans: Nov. quotation up 1 cent per Bu. (+0.1 percent)

Soybean Meal: Dec. quotation down $5 per ton (-1.6 percent)

  • 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 price 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 pound live weight

Markets were essentially unaffected by release of the November WASDE. There is no immediate prospect of resolving the trade dispute with China before the 2018 harvest is completed. The Administration previously announced that negotiations are underway to arrange a meeting between President Trump and Premier Xi in late November at the G-20 Meeting but there has been no confirmation of a specific date or agenda. Markets fluctuate in response to conflicting messages from the White House concerning possible resolution of trade issues with China.

The financial future for row-crop farmers appears bleak despite the promise of $12 billion as "short-term" compensation. Recent comments from the USDA suggest that this value may be trimmed. Farmers will not be placated by the promise of a year-round E-15 blend since the logistic problems of delivery to consumers and legal challenges will delay any positive price benefit. The loss inflicted on farmers by the trade war with China is a gain for livestock producers who will benefit from lower feed costs. Of course the hog and poultry industries have experienced higher costs for a decade as a result of the RFS, a gift which keeps on giving. The RFS is a boon to Midwest politicians, corn growers and ethanol refiners at the expense of anyone in the U.S. who eats or uses any form of transport.


 

Status of 2018 Corn and Soybean Crops

11/04/2018

The USDA Crop Progress Report released on November 5th updated the 2018 corn and soybean harvest.

Seventy-six percent of the corn crop has been harvested conforming to the 5-year average. There is concern over mycotoxicosis associated with early and persistent drought which occurred in some Midwest states during the "silking" stage coupled with wet conditions at the time of harvest.

Eighty-three percent of the soybean crop has been harvested compared to eighty-nine percent for the 5-year average. Harvest was delayed by rain during the past three weeks but advanced eleven percent this past week. The problem facing farmers and elevators will be storage given the rise in ending stocks occasioned by cessation of exports to China. Some relief may occur with the sale of the Southern Hemisphere harvest.

EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS will report on the progress of the two major crops as monitored by the USDA and will continue posting updates through the end of harvest.

WEEK ENDING

Crop Parameter (%)

October 28th

November 4th

5-Year Average

Corn Emerged

Corn Silking

Corn Dough

Corn Denting

Corn Mature

Corn Harvested

100

100

100

100

100

63

100

100

100

100

100

76

100

100

100

100

100

77

       

Soybeans Emerged

Soybeans Blooming

Soybeans Setting Pods

Soybeans Dropping Leaves

Soybeans Harvested

100

100

100

100

72

100

100

100

100

83

100

100

100

100

89


 

USDA-WASDE FORECAST #583 November 8th 2018

11/08/2018

OVERVIEW

The October 11th 2018 USDA WASDE projections for the 2018 corn and soybean harvests are based on actual planting data, crop progress with monitoring by "scouts", recorded crop progress and the fact that 70 percent of the new-crop corn and 87 percent of soybeans have been harvested. The acreage for corn was retained from the July through October projections at 81.8 million acres (83.1 million in 2017). Soybeans will be harvested from 88.3 million acres (89.5 million acres in 2017).

The USDA lowered corn yield by 1.0 percent to 178.9 bushels per acre from the October WASDE (175.4 bushels in 2017). Soybean yield was reduced by 1.9 percent from October to 52.1 bushels per acre (49.5 bushels in 2017).

The November USDA projection of ending stock for corn was lowered by 4.4 percent to 1,736 million bushels. Ending stock for soybeans was raised 7.7 percent to 955 million bushels resulting in predictable declines in CME quotations.

The 2018 corn and soybean crops will be the second largest ever but will be harvested during a time of uncertainty regarding previously projected, anticipated and actual export volumes. The USDA projections of ending stocks and hence prices for corn and soybeans take into account current announced tariffs on U.S. products but do not reflect tariffs or unlikely resolution of the trade conflict with China.


 

REVIEW OF OCTOBER PRODUCTION STATISTICS AND COSTS.

11/05/2018
  • October 2018 USDA Ex-Farm Benchmark Price up 10.5 Percent from September Consistent with Seasonal Trends.

  • USDA Average Nest-run Production Cost Fractionally Lower to 60.0 cents per dozen.

  • Positive USDA Benchmark Nest-run Margin Increased 61.4 percent from September to 20.5 cents per dozen

 

INTRODUCTION.

Summary tables for the latest USDA October 2018 statistics and prices made available by the EIC on November 5th are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous October 8th 2018 posting reflecting September 2018 data.

 

COSTS & REVENUE

Parameter

SEPTEMBER 2018

OCTOBER 2018

5-Region Cost of Production ex farm (1st Cycle)

60.08 c/doz

59.98 c/doz

Low

55.17 c/doz (MW)

55.65c/doz (MW)

High

76.68 c/doz (CA)

77.03 c/doz (CA)

 

Components of 6-Region 1stCycle Cost of Production:-

 

SEPTEMBER 2018

OCTOBER 2018

Feed

31.72 c/doz

31.63c/doz

Pullet depreciation

10.84 c/doz

10.84 c/doz

Labor

4.00 c/doz

4.00 c/doz

Housing

5.30 c/doz

5.30 c/doz

Miscellaneous and other*

8.22 c/doz

8.21 c/doz


* adjusted February 2018

Ex Farm Margin according to USDA values reflecting OCTOBER 2018:-

80.5 cents per dozen1- 60.0 cents per dozen = +20.5 cents per dozen

(September 2018 comparison 72.8 1 cents per dozen - 60.1 cents per dozen = +12.7 cents per dozen.)


 

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 7th 2018.

11/05/2018
  • Hen Numbers in Production increased 1.1 million to 321.2 million.
  • Shell Inventory Up by 2.6 Percent from Previous Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Large up 8.8 and 9.0 Percent Respectively. Mediums up 14.6 Percent Compared to Previous Week.

OVERVIEW

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on November 5 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large sizes were up 8.8 and 9.0 percent respectively and Mediums were up 14.6 percent compared to the past week. The progression of prices during 2018 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The November 5th USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 65: No. 45) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $1.10 per dozen delivered to warehouses week ending November 1st This price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $1.01 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $1.16 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was 8 cents per dozen below the three-year average and 7 cents per dozen above the corresponding week in 2017.


 

USDA DATA ON CAGE-FREE PRODUCTION

11/05/2018

Based on the importance of cage-free production, the USDA-AMS issues a monthly report on volumes and prices for the information of Industry stakeholders. There is some doubt as to the accuracy of the monthly flock numbers and the question is raised whether it would be more desirable to post accurate quarterly data in place of erratic monthly figures.

EGG-NEWS summarizes and comments on data and trends in the monthly USDA Cage-Free Report, supplementing the information posted weekly in the EGG-NEWS Egg Weekly Price and Inventory Report.

The USDA Cage Free Report for the month of October 2018 released on November 2nd 2018 documented constant flock sizes in hens producing under the Certified Organic seal and for cage-free flocks as compared to September 2018. Organic and cage-free egg production were down <0.1 percent from September. The respective numbers of hens in organic and cage-free flocks should reflect the realities of supply and demand in the market over successive quarters. Average flock production remained at 75.3 percent for both categories of non-caged hens (accepting USDA data):-

Flock size '18 (million hens)

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Certified Organic

15.6

15.6

15.6

15.6

15.7

15.7

Cage-free hens

38.9

39.1

39.1

39.1

41.4

41.5

Total non-caged

54.5

54.7

54.7

54.7

57.1

57.2

Average weekly production cases, October 2018 Δ

Certified Organic

229,517 was 229,356 Sept. < -0.1%

Cage-free

606,787 was 606,304 Sept. < -0.1%

Total non-caged

836,304 was 835,660 Sept. < -0.1%

Average Wholesale Contract Price Cage-Free Brown

$1.56/doz. Down 3 cents/doz. From Sept.

Range unchanged at:

$1.15 to $2.10/doz. (Av. $1.56/doz)

FOB Negotiated price, grade quality nest- run, loose

Average up 0.9 percent from September with narrower spread

$1.02 to $1.37/doz. (Av. $1.14/doz)

Average Advertised National Retail Price C-F, L, Brown

$2.62/doz. (was $2.55 September)

USDA 6-Region

High: NE

$2.96/doz. $2.74 SW

 

Low: MW

$2.19/doz. $2.24 MW

 

Kindly refer to weekly USDA wholesale and retail prices posted in the EGG-NEWS Egg Price and Inventory Report E-mailed each Friday. The previous Monthly Cage-Free Report is available under the STATISTICS Tab.


 

SELEGGT Unveils Gender Selection Technology

11/08/2018

A joint venture between Dutch incubation company HatchTech and German supermarket chain REWE Group has developed a practical gender identification system for commercial-level hatching eggs with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

 

On the 9th day of incubation a sample of allantoic fluid is withdrawn through a laser-produced  hole in the shell 0.3 mm in diameter. The fluid is assayed in real time for the presence of estrone indicating an egg with a female embyo. This allows removal of half the setting comprising eggs wit male embryos. According to preliminary studies the outer shell membrane seals the extraction aperture and does not affect hatchability or chick quality.

REWE will market commercial eggs designated as derived from pullets “without brothers” This is considered a marketing advantage in a nation increasingly concerned over the destruction of 45 million day-old cockerel chicks.

 

Seleggt GmbH is developing a business model to make the system available as a “cost-neutral” service. Commercial application is anticipated in early 2020. REWE will roll-out commercial eggs initially in 223 stores in Berlin and will extend to 5,000 REWE and PENNY stores in Germany.

The integrity of the process will be ensured through blockchain technology.

 

In commenting on the Seleggt process unveiled on November 8th representatives of the the participating entities commented on the technical achievement and prospects:-

  

The Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner stated “This is a great day for animal welfare in Germany. In this way we will set the pace in Europe. My Ministry has provided around five million euros to support research for promising methods of gender identification in hatching eggs. With  the market readiness of the process presented today, Germany is a pioneer. Now it is possible to identify the gender of the chicks in the hatching egg through a needle-tip tiny hole. Male hatching eggs no longer need to be incubated and killed immediately after hatching.

Dr. Ludger Breloh, Managing Director of SELEGGT stated “The Ministry's funding was tremendously important to us, especially during the research phase at the University of Leipzig. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the ministry for this support.

Despite all the euphoria, we still have a long way to go. We will work vigorously from our side to make the SELEGGT process available to the hatcheries as a cost-neutral system. Next year, we intend to move from market readiness to start of production Jan Kunath, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of REWE Group said “REWE Group promotes and funds change processes in the industry that take social demands into account – even beyond those outside the company’s own business divisions. For this reason, REWE Group set up SELEGGT GmbH, a joint venture whose mission is to conduct basic research on endocrinologic gender identification in hatching eggs until market-ready solutions are developed. I am therefore all the more pleased that, as of today, we can offer customers in our REWE and PENNY stores an alternative husbandry”

 

Further information is available on www.seleggt.com


 

Mexico Reports H7N3 HPAI on Small Farms

11/08/2018

According to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health, Mexico identified cases of H7N3 HPAI on egg production farms in each of the states of Queretaro and Guanajuato. Outbreaks involved an egg production farm and a flock of fighting cocks.

HPAI can be regarded as endemic in many states in Mexico but is suppressed by administration of inactivated vaccines.

The avian influenza situation is continuously monitored by SENASICA, equivalent to USDA APHIS.


 

Salmet Appoints Regional Business Manager, U.S. and Canada

11/08/2018

Peter Mumm will serve as the Regional Business Manager for U.S. and Canada for Salmet GmbH & Co KG.  Peter is a 25 year veteran of the North American Egg Industry and was previously affiliated to a major primary breeder.


 

Egg Nutrition Center Appoints Director of Research

11/08/2018

The American Egg Board announced that Dr. Jen Houchins will serve as the director of Nutrition Research coordinating the ongoing research program and professional communications.

 

Previous Dr. Houchins served five years with the National Dairy Council as the Director of Regulatory Affairs.  Dr. Houchins earned a baccalaureate degree from the University of Minnesota and was awarded a PhD by Purdue University.  She is a Registered Dietician and can be contacted at jhouchins@eggnutritioncenter.org


 

ENC Presented Promotional Event at Food and Nutrition Conference

11/08/2018

From left to right, Dr. Mickey Rubin and Katie Hayes, ENC and Paul Sauder, Sauder’s Egg, PA.

The Egg Nutrition Center, a unit of the American Egg Board hosted a breakfast event for attendees at the 2018 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.  Special guest speaker was the chair of the AEB Member and Consumer Marketing Committee, Paul Sauder who provided a perspective on U.S. egg production.


 

Egg Nutrition Center Emphasizes Importance of Lutein Intake

11/08/2018

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson of Tufts University and Dr. Naiman Khan of the University of Illinois presented scientific data demonstrating the benefit of dietary lutein on brain and eye function at the 2018 Food and Nutrition Conference.

 

The Egg Nutrition Center operated a Macular Pigment Optical Density instrument at the Expo to measure the concentration of macular lutein in the eyes of attendees.  It is considered significant that approximately 15 percent of those screened among a population of registered dieticians showed suboptimal levels of lutein.

 

Lutein is present in the yolk of eggs and nutritional value can be enhanced supplementing diets with natural pigments extracted from marigold petals which supply xanthophylls and lutein.

 

There is no U.S. RDA for lutein which is considered a critical nutrient. Dietary supplementation is recommended to prevent macular degeneration.


 

FDA Issues Recommendations Following Arizona STEC Contamination

11/08/2018

As the growers in the Yuma Valley, AZ plant their crops for the 2019 season, the FDA has issued recommendations based on the belated investigation of the extensive STEC outbreak attributed to Romaine lettuce earlier this year.

 

Based on an assessment of the source of the STEC involved in an outbreak, the FDA have placed emphasis on preventing contamination of that irrigation water.  The recommendations also include suggestions to process and pack ready-to-eat produce.  It is self-evident that in the absence of an effective decontamination procedure, lettuce, spinach and other leafy vegetables that are harvested with E. coli or other pathogens present will represent a risk to consumers.

 

Regulations introduced by the Leafy Growers Association to distance fields from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations including dairy farms and feed lots will be beneficial.  It is however necessary to constantly monitor irrigation and processing water for the presence of E. coli which may be present in sub-surface water as a result of percolation and runoff.

 

At the present time irradiation is the only absolutely effective measure to decontaminating leafy vegetables with bacteria causing foodborne disease.  This would involve installing electron beam pasteurization, analogous to X-rays at packing plants or transfer of pallet-loads of packed product to a central facility using cobalt60 isotopic irradiation at dose rates subject to FDA approval.  Ultimately consumers will have to decide whether they are willing to accept innocuous irradiation or endure with recurrent outbreaks of listeriosis, salmonellosis and colibacillosis.


 

Elanco Animal Health Enters into Strategic Partnership with Novozymes

11/08/2018

Elanco Animal Health will collaborate with Novozymes in the area of ruminant nutrition.  It is intended for the joint venture to undertake research and development to produce commercially acceptable products within a decade.  It is to be expected that the results of the collaboration will eventually extend to monogastric species including poultry.


 

U.K. to Tax Plastic Packaging

11/02/2018

The 2018 U.K. budget included a provision to tax non-recyclable plastic packaging. This would apply to both domestic and imported product. The criterion for taxation will be less than 30 percent recycled material. According to Phillip Hammond the Chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to the U.S Treasury Secretary), the tax will “transform the economics of sustainable packaging”.

Prime Minister Theresa May has committed Britain to eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042.


 

Evonik Invests in In Ovo Gender Determination

11/02/2018

InOvo, founded in 2013 by scientists affiliated to the University of Leiden is a company vying for a breakthrough in early embryonic gender determination. According to press reports their system is based on removal of a sample of (presumably) allantoic fluid from the egg prior to the time of setting to determine the presence of a biomarker applying mass spectrometry.

If this process requires genetic manipulation for the placement of a biomarker on a chromosome determining gender, the process will in all probability not be acceptable to the major breeders who have eschewed any application which could be regarded as genetic manipulation. Furthermore, the abstraction of fluid from an egg prior to incubation for automated assay will require equipment and installations reminiscent of the gender-sorter developed by Embrex in the late 1990s which proved financially infeasible.

The investment made by Evonik will be used by InOvo to advance technology from a laboratory demonstration of proof of principle to hopefully a commercial prototype.


 

Is Amazon Go™ the Future of Supermarkets?

11/02/2018

Andrew Tarantola writing in Engadget on October 27th makes a strong case that Amazon Go™ will be the future of supermarket shopping. He recounts the history of innovation in grocery shopping from the 1905 Astor Market in Manhattan which failed. The forerunner of modern supermarkets was 30-years ahead of its time but lacked support. Customers were used to purchasing dairy, meat and groceries in separate specialty stores with interaction with the proprietor and his staff.

The supermarket concept was developed by Piggly Wiggly in the early 1950s to cater for suburbanites with autos in the post-WWII era. The innovation comprised selecting items from shelves with payment at a checkout counter.

Barcoding was developed in the late 1940s, but was only introduced in the 1970s since it required considerable technical refinement, innovation and acceptance by consumers.

Shopping without checkout may appear efficient and technologically beneficial, but consumers will have the last say as to acceptability. If there are snafus in reading codes or if consumers make errors in selection and wish to substitute or cancel an item the system may result in confusion.  It must be remembered that over a decade ago, self-checkout counters were introduced with great fanfare. Apart from quick-service lanes with customers purchasing a limited number of items all barcoded, the system has minimal application and is not cost-effective either in terms of labor saving or goodwill.

The heading of the article proclaiming that Amazon Go™ will be “the future of supermarkets” may be more presumptuous than prescient.


 

EPA to Exempt Farms From Air Release Reports Under EPCRA

11/06/2018

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes to the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) to exempt farms from reporting air releases derived from animal waste.

The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act passed by Congress on March 23rd clearly stated that it was not the original intention of EPCRA to cover low-level air releases from natural degradation of manure as an emergency notification.

The decision by the EPA was warmly received by the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and United Egg Producers. In a joint statement, the industry groups noted “The removal of this unnecessary burden will ensure that emergency first responders’ important effort and time is not wasted on responding to non-emergencies.”


 

Kroger Places Orders for Ocado Mechanized Warehouse Installations

11/06/2018

Following the agreement between the Kroger Company and Ocado in the U.K. during May, Kroger has confirmed orders for three mechanized warehouse installations to be termed “fulfillment centers”.

Previously Ocado provide robotic warehouse installations for U.K. supermarket chain Morrison’s in addition to Casino in France, Sobeys in Canada and ICA Group in Sweden.

Subject to satisfactory function, Kroger intends purchasing 20 units over a three-year period.

In terms of the agreement, Ocado will install and maintain the robotic warehouse installations against payment of an upfront fee and a royalty.


 

ADM Reports on Q3 of FY 2018

11/07/2018

In a press release dated November 6th Archer Daniel Midland Company (ADM) announced results for the 3rd Quarter of Fiscal 2018 ending September 30th 2018.

The following table summarizes the results for the period compared with the values for the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year (Values expressed as $ x 1,000 except EPS)

3rd Quarter Ending September 30th.

2018

2017

Difference (%)

Sales:

$15,800,000

$14,827,000

+6.6

Gross profit:

$1,058,000

$812,000

+30.3

Operating income:

$523,000*

$227,000

+130.4

Net Income

$536,000

$192,000

+179.2

Diluted earnings per share:

$0.94

$0.34

+176.4

Gross Margin (%)

6.7

5.5

+21.8

Operating Margin (%)

3.3

1.5

+120.0

Profit Margin (%)

3.4

1.3

+161.5

Long-term Debt:

$7,320,000

$6,608,000

+10.8

12 Months Trailing:

     

Return on Assets (%)

2.9

   

Return on Equity (%)

10.8

   

Operating Margin (%)

2.8

   

Profit Margin (%)

3.1

   

Total Assets

$29,138,000

$27,837,000

+4.7

Market Capitalization

$26,930,000

   

*Includes $196 million in non-recurring revenue from sale of assets and other sources

52-Week Range in Share Price: $38.59 to $52.07

Market Open Nov. 7th post release $47.68

Forward P/E: 13.3 Beta 0.7

The team delivered another strong quarter, capitalizing on robust global demand with good execution and great utilization of our global footprint," commented ADM Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano. He opined "For the last several years, through good conditions and bad, we've remained focused on serving our customers and delivering our strategic plan - optimizing our core, driving efficiencies, and expanding strategically. Now, as we look forward to 2019, we are continuing to enhance our earnings power, both through our growth investments and our Readiness initiative, which is beginning to drive fundamental changes in the way we run our company.

He concluded "Thanks to the team's great work and the growing benefits of our strategic actions, we expect a solid end to 2018, as well as continued momentum for growth in earnings and returns in 2019 and the years to follow."


 

Commentary


Omnivores, Vegetarians and Vegans

11/01/2018

Vegans tend to be a vociferous minority frequently proselytizing consumers to their lifestyle. The question arises as to the proportion in the U.S. population that are respectively vegans and vegetarians. A 2017 study conducted by Nielsen yielded a value of three percent of the population regarding themselves as vegans with six percent as vegetarians. Concurrently, Gallup and Harris found three percent of the population self-characterizing as vegan during the period 2012 to 2018.

These figures would appear to be high in relation to a 2016 study in Britain which showed that only one percent of those surveyed never ate meat or animal products. The U.K. value is closer to studies conducted by Faunalytics which ascertained that only 0.5 percent of the U.S. population are true vegans with additional 3 to 4 percent as vegetarians.

Obviously the discrepancy between polls and detailed surveys relates to definition. Vegans exclude all meat, fish, dairy and egg products from their diets. Vegetarians generally eschew meat but consume eggs and dairy products. Flexitarians represent a class of consumers who move between omnivorous and vegetable-based diets.

The low proportion of true vegans and a fairly stable number of vegetarians belies the increase in consumption of food products designated “vegetarian”. Obviously consumers are purchasing vegetarian foods which are incorporated in a conventional omnivorous diet. The motivation for this practice has yet to be defined although companies such as Nestle which estimates that only a quarter of consumers purchasing vegetarian meals fall strictly into this category. Obviously some consumers classified as flexitarians consider that some welfare or sustainability objectives are satisfied by eating an occasional vegetarian meal, thereby, contributing to a feeling of self-satisfaction.

The subject of veganism reviewed by The Economist on October 13th characterizes responses elicited by surveys as “aspirational self-deception, terminological inexactitude or simply hypocrisy”.

In assessing the environmental impact of egg production, the carbon dioxide equivalent emission per ton of protein from eggs is approximately 25,000 tons per ton of protein compared to beef at 275,000 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of protein.


 

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11/08/2018


 

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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