News Wire

Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has praised U.S. House Agriculture Committee leaders for releasing a draft dairy bill that takes a number of positive steps on behalf of both producers and processors to modernize federal dairy policies in the 2007 Farm Bill. “[Leaders] have clearly worked together in a bipartisan manner to forge a solid compromise bill that lays an excellent foundation for the committee’s Farm Bill deliberations,” says Connie Tipton, IDFA president and chief executive officer. The subcommittee recommends making permanent the successful dairy forward contracting pilot program, which operated from 2000-04, to provide all milk buyers and sellers with much-needed risk management tools. “A permanent dairy forward contracting program will go a long way toward improving financial certainty for thousands of dairy producers and processors, and providing a level playing field in the dairy marketplace,” Tipton says. Taking another bold step, the subcommittee recommends changes to the Dairy Price Support Program and the Federal Milk Marketing Orders.
Farm milk prices have reached their highest levels in three years, with retail dairy prices following close behind, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The consumer price index for dairy products was 185.82 in April, up 0.1 percent from March and 2.5 percent higher than April 2006. The retail whole milk price average for 30 cities was $3.32 per gallon in April, up from $3.20 a year earlier and 3 cents higher than the beginning of 2007.
Aiming to improve its financial performance, North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Bravo Brands Inc. has implemented a restructuring plan that included terminating 34 of its 62 employees in late April, reducing payroll expenses by more than 50 percent. Executives on the chopping block included Roy Warren, chief executive officer since May 1999 and president since May 2006; Warren will remain as a company director. Also terminated were chief revenue officer Michael Edwards and chief marketing officer Stanley Harris. Key personnel have been retained to enable the company to move forward in implementing possible new distribution and production arrangements. “Recent events, including disappointing revenue growth and our stock trading price, have made our efforts to obtain adequate funding to continue at our present size difficult,” says Ben Patipa, chief operating officer. “This reduction in work force is but a part of a larger plan to restructure our business in an effort to give us a better opportunity to move toward profitability.” Bravo develops and markets fortified flavored milk products throughout the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico under the Slammers® and Bravo!™ brands.
With Plymouth, Wis.-based Sartori Foods’ purchase last year of the Antigo Cheese Co., Antigo, Wis., and the addition of two executives this spring, the company has announced the expansion of its specialty cheese offerings and marketing efforts. “The consumer is looking for new ideas and new tastes,” says Becky Ryan, Sartori’s newly hired managing director of retail. “We have some really great products that we think are really well positioned to take advantage of those trends.”
The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has announced plans to build a private label soymilk processing plant in Hutchinson, Kan., creating at least 80 new jobs. The plant is receiving a subsidy to encourage job growth from Hutchinson city and county officials, according to the Hutchinson News.
In a feature called Green 101 (April), Fitness magazine recognized Londonderry, N.H.-based Stonyfield Farm as an “Earth-friendly brand” by giving a nod to the company’s Profits for the Planet program, which gives 10 percent of profits to environmental causes.
Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland, Fla.; Davisco Foods International Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn.; and Kemps LLC, St. Paul., Minn., were named the 2007 recipients of Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) GRAND Pioneer Awards at the association’s board of directors meeting in April. The GRAND recognition program honors three member companies — one each from the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), National Cheese Institute (NCI) and International Ice Cream Association (IICA) — for their political involvement activities on priority dairy issues.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a letter to food manufacturers on its Web site last month reminding companies that they are legally responsible for assuring that the ingredients they use are safe for human consumption. FDA also announced in the letter that the agency was working with state regulators on a new initiative to inspect domestic food and feed facilities and to test product samples for the presence of melamine and other protein ingredients.
In 2006, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reduced the permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium, a carcinogenic compound that may be released into the air in small amounts when workers weld or grind stainless steel. In an effort to determine whether dairy facilities need to take additional precautions, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has been collecting air-sampling data from members during the past year. While preliminary results show that typical welding activities in dairy facilities do not exceed the new limit, IDFA needs more members to provide sampling data to satisfy OSHA’s data-collection requirements. IDFA asks members to send their hexavalent chromium sampling data, which will be kept confidential and used only in the aggregate, to Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president, at cdetlefsen@idfa.org before August 31, 2007. For more information or questions, contact Detlefsen at (202) 220-3554.