A Fond du Lac cheese plant with 126 employees will be closed in seven months. Saputo, based on Montreal, announced Thursday it's closing the cheese manufacturing facility on East Scott Street next May.Saputo says it will save more than $5.5 million a year by moving the operations to a newly-built blue cheese factory in Almena in western Wisconsin, about 265 miles away.Employees will receive severance. Some will be offered a chance to work at other Saputo facilities, the company said.
The founder and CEO of Chobani has no regrets about moving his Greek yogurt company to south-central Idaho, a region embroiled in the national debate over refugee resettlement that spread to company boycotts by far-right bloggers and conspiracy theorists. “I hear the conversations here and there, but it’s a peaceful community that we all love,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant. “It’s the home of Chobani.”Ulukaya spoke to The Associated Press before a Thursday announcement of a $20 million expansion of the company’s facility in the city of Twin Falls — the world’s largest yogurt plant — to serve as its global research and development center tackling how yogurt is made and consumed.It’s a project Ulukaya says he’s been planning for several years. As to what innovations the company plans for the 70,000-square-foot facility, Ulukaya isn’t sharing yet. He said the focus will be on offering natural and non-synthetic products.The project follows a series of expansion efforts by Chobani since opening its Idaho plant in 2012. The $450 million, 1 million-square-foot plant is the company’s second after Ulukaya started Chobani in New York. The company employs 2,000 workers, including 300 refugees.However, Chobani’s time in Idaho also has taken a darker turn as anti-immigrant advocates have seized on the company’s open stance on refugees. Fringe websites have falsely claimed that Ulukaya wanted to “drown the United States in Muslims.” Other websites, like Breitbart News, falsely attempted to link Chobani’s hiring of refugees to an uptick in tuberculosis cases in Idaho. To counteract the hateful rhetoric, Chobani sued right-wing radio host Alex Jones earlier this year, saying that Jones and his InfoWars website posted fabricated stories linking Ulukaya and the company to a sexual assault case involving refugee children in Twin Falls. Jones originally promised to never back down in his fight against the yogurt giant but eventually retracted his statements in a settlement.Ulukaya declined to comment on the Jones lawsuit but said the rise in anti-refugee sentiment has never delayed a project he wanted to pursue. And he says he is committed to being a welcoming company.“Don’t leave anyone out,” he said. “At Chobani, we believe in second chances.”During Thursday’s expansion launch, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter praised Chobani’s impact on the community.“This new investment in Twin Falls reflects Chobani’s commitment to Idaho and to the people who have responded so positively to its corporate citizenship,” Otter said in a prepared statement. “Congratulations to all those who are contributing to Chobani’s growth, just as Chobani is contributing to ours.”
Nestlé announced that it will commit to sourcing only cage-free eggs across its entire global supply chain by 2025. This pledge comes almost two years after its U.S. division said it would switch to cage-free eggs for its food brands by 2020.It’s a big commitment. The Humane Society of the United States has noted that cage-free hens have a relatively better life than those condemned to painful confinement in a battery cage. Nevertheless, to many animal rights activists, cage-free is still a pretty dire existence. Nevertheless, the announcement coming out of Nestlé’s Switzerland headquarters demonstrates a growing trend: Food companies that ignore millennials do so at their own peril. “The wrath of millennials and other concerned consumers comes down especially hard on companies stuck behind the trend of improved animal welfare,” wrote Brett Cox for Entrepreneur earlier this year.Cox cited a 2015 study by the NGO World Animal Protection stating that 83 percent of millennials surveyed say they consider a company’s animal welfare policies when considering food purchases.
Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com announced it has signed a deal to import over $1.2 billion of U.S. beef and pork over three years. In a big win for Montana beef producers, the agreement includes a minimum commitment of $200 million in beef to be imported by JD from Cross Four Ranch and Montana Stockgkrowers Association members at fair market value over three years. It is estimated that JD’s purchase of Cross Four Ranch and MSGA beef will increase Montana beef export sales by as much as 40 percent in 2018.
A new biotech apple is about to hit grocery stores across the US as the country’s first harvest of the genetically modified (GM) fruit ships from orchards in Washington state. Unlike regular apples, this new variation on the fruit, commonly called the “Arctic apple,” does not brown when cut and exposed to oxygen. It will be sold as a sliced apple product in 10-ounce bags, available at 400 Midwest grocery stores early this month, according to Bloomberg.The Arctic apple, owned by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits, isn’t a new invention. Scientists have been tinkering with it for more than two decades, leading up to the 2015 deregulation (pdf) of the product by the USDA. And it’s not actually a type of apple variety—the Arctic apple comes in at least three varieties, including Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Fuji.
Nearly half of all “new” milk produced in this country over the last 13 years has gone to markets beyond our borders. Since 2004, the expansion in U.S. dairy exports alone added an average of $1.25 per hundredweight per year to U.S. farm milk prices. That has meant an additional $36 billion in milk revenues since 2004. In an industry where a few percentage points can make the difference between breaking even and going broke, that is a very big deal. Export gains have lent critical support to U.S. milk production growth and the expansion of the entire U.S. dairy industry over the past decade-plus.If U.S. dairy exports had remained locked at their 2003-2004 level, we would be looking at a much more fragile industry today with far dimmer prospects. Similarly, if U.S. dairy exports remain locked at their current level moving forward, there is little question it would stunt growth and erode the health and vitality of the U.S. dairy industry.
Once a rarity on global dinner tables, salmon is a staple today, thanks to a fish farming industry that has expanded at breakneck speed in recent decades, including in Norway, where in 2016 around 1.18 million metric tons were produced. But now, Norwegian fish farmers face new curbs designed to protect the country’s stocks of wild salmon, rules that have ignited anger from the industry and its opponents, prompting threats of court challenges from both sides.The wild Norwegian salmon are members of an ancient species that, early in its life cycle, heads down river, swimming through Norway’s famous fjords, and out to saltwater feeding grounds, before returning to their native rivers to spawn.In recent years, however, the wild salmon population has more than halved, partly because of the spread of sea lice, parasites that feast on the mucus and skin of the fish before moving on to the muscle and fat, making the fish vulnerable to infections and sometimes killing them. The lice problem is so bad that the worldwide supply of salmon on sale, the overwhelming majority of which is farmed, fell significantly last year, with Norway, the largest producer, especially hard hit.To contain the problem, a system came into force in Norway on Oct. 15, under which farms in regions that are judged to severely threaten wild salmon numbers will have their production frozen and potentially, in future years, cut. If the lice are brought under control, then output can be increased.
Sustainability is a hot topic across industries, but Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes told CNBC that even major food producers like his have to step up to the plate. "Here's the issue: If we're going to feed nine and a half billion people around the world by 2050, we have to be part of the solution. Big food has to get in the ballgame," Hayes told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer when asked about sustainability efforts.Tyson is the country's largest chicken producer and has a large share of the beef and pork markets. As a start, the company recently eliminated the use of antibiotics in all of its chicken products.Hayes, who took on the role of CEO in June 2016, insisted that large companies have to incite change themselves to tackle sustainability problems."These problems are not going to be solved by backyard farms. So we're taking it on. We have to be a part of the game, not only be a part of it, we want to lead it," he said.Hayes added that Tyson, which operates predominantly in the United States, has some other, loftier goals when it comes to providing protein to world markets."Our strategic intent is to be the world's best, most sustainable protein supplier, bar none. And it's because of that fact. More than 50 percent of all consumers in the U.S. are actively trying to add protein to their diets," the CEO said. "So it is not a fad. It is something that is part of the health regimen for so many Americans and people around the world, so absolutely, that is our square focus."
The effects are more insidious than any overindulgent amount of “bad food” can ever be. By fretting about food, we turn occasions for comfort and joy into sources of fear and anxiety. And when we avoid certain foods, we usually compensate by consuming too much of others. All of this happens under the guise of science. But a closer look at the research behind our food fears shows that many of our most demonized foods are actually fine for us. Taken to extremes, of course, dietary choices can be harmful — but that logic cuts both ways. Many of the doctors and nutritionists who recommend avoiding certain foods fail to properly explain the magnitude of their risks. In some studies, processed red meat in large amounts is associated with an increased relative risk of developing cancer. The absolute risk, however, is often quite small. If I ate an extra serving of bacon a day, every day, my lifetime risk of colon cancer would go up less than one-half of 1 percent. Even then, it’s debatable.Nevertheless, we’ve become more and more susceptible to arguments that we must avoid certain foods completely. When one panic-du-jour wanes, we find another focus for our fears. We demonized fats. Then cholesterol. Then meat.
A pair of bills that Republicans say will reduce fraud in food stamp, Medicaid and welfare programs, but Democrats say are misguided, easily passed the House on Wednesday. The goal is “to protect the integrity of the entire SNAP program,” and “get the benefits to people who need them,” Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said of House Bill 50, which requires adults to have a photo ID on cards issued under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the former food stamp program.“SNAP cards used fraudulently are being used to feed the drug crisis in Ohio,” he said.Analysis of the bills by the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission estimate that neither one will produce savings from reducing fraud — an estimate Schaffer disputes. It also estimates the photo ID bill will cost up to $2 million for new photo cards, and up to $3 million to operate the photo ID program. But critics say food-stamp cards are issued for an entire household, so a photo would not represent all authorized users of a card. They also note that with self-serve checkouts, cashiers often won’t see the pictures — and aren’t required to report abuses even if they do. “Not only does it lack evidence of its effectiveness, it also lacks transparency in relation to the actual cost our state agencies will have to shoulder with its implementation,” Lisa Hamler Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, told a House committee.