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Pilgrim's Pride and Gold Kist merge

 Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (Pittsburg, TX) and Gold Kist Inc. (Atlanta, GA) have entered into a definitive merger agreement in which Pilgrim’s Pride will acquire all outstanding shares of Gold Kist common stock for $21.00 per share. The transaction has a total equity value of about $1.1 billion. Pilgrim’s Pride will also assume $144 million of Gold Kist’s debt.

In terms of manufacturing capabilities, the combined company will be the world’s largest chicken producer, and the processor is expected to be the third-largest meat protein company by revenues in the US. The combined company will benefit from a broadened geographic reach in the US and increased competitiveness internationally.

Pilgrim’s Pride expects to realize about $50 million in annualized synergies through the optimization of distribution and production facilities and cost savings in purchasing, production, logistics and administrative costs.

Pilgrim’s Pride employs about 40,000 people in 16 states, Mexico and Puerto Rico. In October 2004, with the approval of its membership, Gold Kist converted from a farm cooperative to a for-profit company. It processes 14 million birds per week and employs more than 16,000 people.

Green Onions and E. Coli?

 Ready Pac, supplier of green onions to Taco Bell, has stopped all shipments following a preliminary and inconclusive test for E. coli O157:H7, which Taco Bell conducted. Taco Bell also removed green onions from its restaurants. This action follows more than 60 cases of sickness reported in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

According to Ready Pac’s VP marketing, Steve Dickstein, green onions are produced in a limited production run exclusively for Taco Bell in one section of Ready Pac’s Florence, NJ, plant. “All raw and processed green onions have been removed from the plant as part of our precautionary measures.”

FDA has been working with state authorities, CDC, Taco Bell, Ready Pac and other distributors to help determine a source. In view of the inconclusive testing so far, FDA is exploring other potential sources of contamination. These include cilantro, cheddar cheese, blended cheese, yellow onions, tomatoes and lettuce.

According to an updated report from CDC, samples of the green onions obtained by the restaurant chain tested negative for E. coli O157. In addition, no other food item has a definite or preliminary test indicating the presence of E. coli O157.

To be safe, Taco Bell has switched its produce supplier in the affected states. FDA is also working with CDC and Taco Bell Corp. and its suppliers and distributors to obtain any further relevant information on sources and distribution.

RFID for soup cans?

Crown Holdings Inc. and QinetiQ launched a joint development program to adapt QinetiQ’s Omni-ID Pak integrated radio frequency identification (RFID) for use in metal packaging systems. This will enable brand owners to integrate UHF RFID tags into metal packaging for a wide variety of applications at the single item level.

While it would seem that a RFID tag built into a metal can has no chance of working because of signal reflection, detuning and grounding, this technology makes use of several of the metal can’s inherent properties and shifts the format into a working solution.

The new technology allows a UHF tag to be mounted directly onto the metal substrate. Less than 1-mm in thickness, the Omni-ID structure collects and focuses RF energy and enables highly-efficient coupling to the chip. RFID chips need only a short coupling antenna rather than the large dipole usually built into UHF tags, reducing manufacturing costs.

In the near future, the metal substrate will have an integral role in the way the technology works. Using a beverage or food can as an example, the can itself would serve as an antenna, simplifying production of the RFID tag and further reducing costs. Existing Gen 1 and Gen 2 RFID tags would complete the equation.

Initially, the technology is targeted at higher-end applications such as liquors and confections, but it is anticipated that the technology will be economically feasible at the unit product level for all applications, and will be made available for licensing across metal packaging and aqueous products applications.

Sarbanes-Oxley: No Escape

Six major international accounting companies think frequent financial reporting is a must-even for smaller food processors.

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Tech Update: Heat Transfer: Advances, Borrowed and New

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People, Plant and Industry News

Nestle FoodServices North America broke ground on its new Culinary Innovation Center in Solon, OH. The 67,300-sq.-ft. center includes a basement, two floors, and the provision for a future third floor. The facility will serve as a development center for Nestle FoodServices’ culinary products.

Bacardi Limited offered to purchase 42 BELOW Limited, owner of 42 BELOW vodkas. Bacardi has the support of founding shareholders, major shareholders and employees of 42 BELOW.

Shearer’s Food recently acquired Poppees Popcorn. Poppees management team and associates will remain in place and continue to operate as an independent business from its North Ridgeville, OH, location.

Novazone, a provider of clean technology solutions for food and water including advanced, ozone-based applications, appointed David Cope as president and CEO. Cope was previously chief marketing officer for the company.

Eriez Magnetics recently broke ground on a 30,843-sq.-ft. expansion of its Erie, PA, plant. The expansion will add 20 to 30 jobs to the facility, which already employs 250, and will enable the company to make some of its large magnets and systems in-house.