Frozen Express
Dec. 9, 2013

Sysco to buy US Foods for $3.5 billion
The New York Times
Sysco agreed recently to buy US Foods for about $3.5 billion in stock and cash, uniting two of the biggest food distributors in the country. Under the terms of the deal, Sysco will pay $3 billion in stock and $500 million in cash. The transaction will give US Foods' current owners, the investment firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a roughly 13 percent stake in the combined company.More

Euromonitor on the year ahead in packaged food: battling industry fatigue, private label
Packaged food companies continue to see mid-range market share stolen from an increasingly sophisticated store brand segment. So they’ll look to stay relevant with continued focus on convenience and popular messaging like high protein.More

USDA rejects national leafy green safety program with unexpected timing
Food Safety News
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would not move forward with a proposal by the leafy greens industry to create the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement. First proposed more than four years ago, the initiative would have created a nationally recognized standard for safely growing leafy salad greens modeled after the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements.More

2013 — A year of living dismally
The Hill
Heading into an election year, Democrats and Republicans are trying to figure out how to salvage their brands after a bruising 2013. The political year has seen a succession of angry standoffs, starting with the fiscal cliff fight last New Year and ending soon with a Friday the 13th deadline for a budget deal. Voters are fed up with repeated brinkmanship, and their representatives in Congress are rushing to deflect the backlash toward their opponents or even toward others within their own parties.More

Sugar protections prove easy to swallow for whole political spectrum
The Washington Post
Washington politicians facing a year-end deadline to cut billions in agriculture spending are feuding over the future of food aid for the poor and crop subsidies for farmers. There is, however, one area of agreement in the contentious negotiations: sugar.More

Budget deal expected this week amounts to a cease-fire as sides move to avert a standoff
The Washington Post
House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011, when the battle over a soaring national debt first paralyzed Washington. After more than two years of constant crisis, the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease-fire. Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid another economy-damaging standoff.More

Senator highlights work to pass strong, long-term farm bill
Sen. John Hoeven, a member of the House-Senate farm bill conference committee, convened a meeting of livestock producers and western North Dakota agriculture groups to highlight portions of the farm bill that will help ranchers who suffered losses during the October blizzard in the Dakotas. Hoeven is working to get agreement from conferees so that Congress can pass a strong, long-term farm bill by the end of this year or January.More

President Barack Obama salutes World Trade Organization, says small businesses are big winners
President Barack Obama praised the World Trade Organization on Dec. 8 for striking its first fully multilateral trade deal in its nearly 20-year history. "This new deal, and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe," Obama said in a statement from the White House. "Small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars."More

AMS says organic program ready to tackle livestock, bees, pet food
The National Organic Program, administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, plans to propose a new rule on origin of livestock by April 2014, but stakeholders are likely wary of the agency's pledge. The origins of the rulemaking stretch back to a 2005 federal court ruling, which ordered USDA to address concerns about dairy replacement animals within organic production.More

NLRB takes 4th Circuit recess appointment row to high court
Law360 (subscription required)
The National Labor Relations Board last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the Fourth Circuit's ruling that deemed recess appointments to the board in 2012 unconstitutional, saying the high court should hold the case until it decides Noel Canning.More

Reforming food stamps, yet coddling millionaires?
The advancements in U.S. agricultural productivity are one of the great accomplishments of the 20th century. Because agriculture has been one of the lone bright spots in the national economy, it's led to people from all sides to be critical of the current farm bill negotiations.More

Some frozen produce healthier than fresh
The Grower
Although many consumers may believe that fresh produce contains more nutrients than frozen, a University of Georgia study done in collaboration with the Frozen Food Foundation says otherwise.More

Trouble in the food aisle: Tobacco's road?
Convenience Store News
It's no secret that food policy activist groups have long been seeking some type of large-scale legal action against food manufacturers and retailers, using the case against tobacco as a road map.More

Smithfield posts $4.2 million loss in first report since Shuanghui merger
Smithfield Foods Inc. said Friday it lost $4.2 million in the company's second fiscal quarter ended Oct. 27 on decreased operating profit in its pork segment and costs associated with its merger with China's Shuanghui International Holdings, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.More

Australian government seeking support for review of agriculture industry
ABC News Online
The Federal Government is seeking bipartisan support for a review of Australia's agriculture industry, as it aims to double the nation's food production by 2050. Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says the coalition, seeking to capitalize on growing world demand for food, will canvas options for strategic investment that boosts returns for local food producers.More

Federal prosecutors may want their own psychoanalysis on Parnell
Food Safety News
Attorneys for Stewart Parnell have said the former Peanut Corporation of America CEO did not have the mental capacity to intentionally commit multiple felonies, including wire fraud and conspiracy, because he suffers from attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Now, in a motion filed Dec. 4, federal prosecutors say that if Parnell's attorneys are allowed to present evidence from a psychological examination that diagnosed his ADHD, they want to have their own psychoanalysis performed.More

The largest strike ever just hit the fast food industry
Fast food workers staged a one-day strike in 100 cities across the country on Dec. 4, with workers joining the largest ever action to protest the industry's low wages in places such as New York City, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. Striking workers demanded wage raises to $15 an hour and the right to form a union, calling the current federal minimum of $7.25 unlivable. Nearly 70 percent of fast food workers make between $7.26 and $10.09, and more than a quarter of industry workers rely on these wages to support at least one child. This recent strike is the largest in a growing string of protests, including a strike that reached 50 cities in August.More

Listeria, misbranding prompt recalls throught US, Canada
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced two recalls Friday, based on misbranding in one instance and fears of Listeria contamination in another. Recalls include:

  • StockPot Inc.: 22,368 pounds of chicken noodle soup due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen. The Classic Chicken Noodle Soup product is formulated with wheat, a known allergen. However, the product was released with a Loaded Baked Potato Style Soup side label, which does not declare this allergen.
  • Santa Maria Foods: 2,600 pounds of whole boneless ham prosciutto product due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

  • Editor's note: Members of the American Frozen Food Institute have access to AFFI's unique Product Recall Insurance Program. Ensure you're protected during a food safety crisis using AFFI's one-of-a-kind program. For more information, please click here. More