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April 2009

Have You Herd …

… Burger King Corp. officially opens the world’s first WHOPPER Bar restaurant at Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla. Elevating the HAVE IT YOUR WAY brand promise to new heights, the WHOPPER Bar restaurant embodies the power of personal choice by offering guests a customizable, premium and indulgent WHOPPER-based menu.
 
… A new study by European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition–Oxford analyzed the cancer incidence among vegetarians and found that the incidence of colorectal cancer was higher in vegetarians than in meat eaters, which stands in contrast to some recent claims.
 
… Epitopix is the first ever E.coli 0157 vaccine to receive USDA Approval. USDA is allowing Epitopix to make the vaccine and make it immediately available for use by the beef industry. Beef checkoff research has played an important role in identifying opportunities to control E. coli and has helped advance the science supporting pre-harvest intervention technologies.
 
… Today’s feel good story comes to us from a rancher in North Dakota
 
Checkoff Funds Ethanol Co-Products Research
Researchers from across the country gathered at a checkoff-funded summit titled “Ethanol Co-Products – Beef Product Implications” in November 2006 to develop a summary of existing research and establish future research needs. As a response to those identified needs and in an effort to determine the impact of feeding high levels of ethanol co-products (e.g., distiller’s grains) on beef end-product quality and safety, the beef checkoff funded a total of six research projects.
 
The results of these research projects add to the body of knowledge the entire industry is compiling to determine the effects of using distiller’s grains in cattle diets and their impact on product quality and safety. These studies have identified additional knowledge gaps the checkoff and the industry will continue to address.
 
More information about checkoff-funded research projects can be found here.
 
Greg Akagi Joins Trade Tour to Japan and Korea
NAFB President-Elect Greg Akagi, farm editor for WIBW AM and the Kansas Agriculture Network, just returned from a trip to Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea.

He traveled there with leaders from the Kansas Corn Commission and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). The trip provided an opportunity for the group to gain a better understanding of U.S. meat exports.
 
One of the highlights of the trip for Greg was a visit to a cold storage facility in Japan where the group saw boxes of meat from a number of U.S. packers, many based in Kansas, including Tyson, Cargill, National Beef and Creekstone Farms, among others.

Japan is Prime Target for U.S. Middle Meat Promotions
While the sluggish U.S. economy places downward pressure on middle meat prices, the Beef Checkoff Program has been working to expand the range of beef cuts in targeted overseas markets to help maximize the cutout value for producers.
 
Japan has certainly been a key audience for the checkoff’s promotional efforts given that nation’s historic appetite for U.S. beef, including the desire for delicious steaks. Given the strength of the Japanese yen in the international currency market as well as its relatively strong economy despite the current global economic challenges, the checkoff is working through the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to take advantage of the competitive pricing of U.S. middle meats by expanding the presence of U.S. steak on Japan’s dinner menus. This focus is consistent with the goals of the Beef Checkoff Program, which have been evaluating new methods of driving up demand for high-quality middle meats.
 
Exports Approach Pre-BSE Levels
The value of U.S. beef exports in 2008 reached $3.6 billion – or 94 percent of where they stood in 2003, prior to BSE found in the U.S. Exports to all leading markets were up for the year, by 28 percent in volume and 38 percent in value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). That means 2009 likely will be the year that the U.S. surpasses the pre-BSE levels in terms of value, though it’s likely to take another year or two to surpass pre-BSE volumes. “Next year, if we have a little luck with Japan, with Korea, we fully expect to eclipse the record export number we had in 2003,” said USMEF President and CEO Phil Seng. “Right now, we estimate that about $135 per head is the premium that you’re getting from the international marketplace today.” Toward a goal of accomplishing beef exports of 3 billion pounds in 2010 – up from 2.8 billion in 2003 – the checkoff is increasing company-specific focus in international markets in 2009; developing new sales channels; intensifying efforts to move value cuts; expanding sales-force training; and focusing on displacing share from competing companies.
 
In related news, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services reports that rising incomes have lead to greater overall meat consumption, with per capita consumption in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, for example, surpassing a combined 64 pounds per person in 2008, up from just over 59 pounds in 2003. As consumer incomes in foreign markets, particularly in emerging market economies, continue to grow, the trend of increasing trade in red meats—and increasing interdependence between U.S. and foreign markets—will likely continue, USDA notes. For more information about factors affecting U.S. beef trade, go to USDA Economic Research.
 
Focus on Nutrition
The checkoff’s nutrition team joined more than 100 key health and nutrition thought leaders on March 17, 2009, in Washington D.C., at the Achieve Better Health with Nutrient Rich Foods Symposium sponsored by the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition, of which the beef checkoff is a founding member. This scientific meeting laid the groundwork for a paradigm shift in nutrition education – from a focus on avoidance to an emphasis on a positive, total diet approach. Symposium highlights included presentations about development of a scientifically valid definition of “nutrient density” and a preview of a consumer-driven nutrition education system - My5 - that can be used to help consumers get the most nutrition out of their calories.
 
The checkoff is also focusing on the benefits of protein through a series of webinars to educate health professionals across the country. These thought-provoking and interactive educational webinars about the Power of Protein in Optimal Health are geared toward dietitians and other health professionals. Attendees are able to hear from leading protein experts who share their latest scientific research on the role of protein on several health outcomes.
 
In October 2008, the beef checkoff coordinated the first of these webinars in conjunction with the Florida Beef Council. In March 2009, the checkoff hosted a second protein webinar in conjunction with state beef councils in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma and a third is planned with several Eastern State Beef Councils (Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut) in May.

    
  


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