It was the first year sales surpassed those in 2003, when exports to Asia collapsed amid the first U.S. mad cow disease scare. Prior to the April 23 announcement that mad cow disease had been found in a California dairy cow, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted exports would drop slightly this year as ranchers limit production because of drought and high feed costs.
Last year, 14 percent of the beef produced in the U.S. was shipped overseas. Measured in both sales and volume, exports saw growth of more than 20 percent according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Four countries, Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea, accounted for 65 percent of last year’s beef exports.
Supervalu Expands Sustainability Program
Supervalu has introduced a major expansion of its environmental sustainability program that includes a commitment to have 300 stores redirect 90 percent or more of their waste from local landfills by the end of the current fiscal year, next February 2013.
The goal, which will involve the addition of nearly 250 of the company’s current stores, is a major milestone in Supervalu’s journey to achieve zero waste throughout its operations.
“Last year marked incredible progress in our zero waste efforts and we’re even more excited about what lies ahead,” said Craig Herkert, Supervalu CEO and president. “Keeping waste out of landfills is better for the environment, better for our customers and better for the bottom line. It’s simply the right thing for us to do.”
Supervalu notes there was a reduction of more than 28,000 tons of landfill waste in 2011, compared to calendar year 2010. There was also a 98 percent increase in mixed paper recycling, 55 percent increase in hard plastic recycling and 293 percent increase in the number of stores composting or diverting organic material.
“A key part of our effort to eliminate waste is Supervalu’s Fresh Rescue program, which provides significant donations of fresh meats, produce and vegetables to our community partners,” Herkert said. “This is a vital part of serving our neighborhoods, helping put to good use food that might have otherwise ended up being wasted.”
Global Food Prices Trending Higher
The World Bank Group’s latest Food Price Watch finds that global food prices increased by 8 percent from December 2011 to March 2012 due to higher oil prices, adverse weather conditions, and Asia’s strong demand for food imports. Furthermore, if the current forecasts for increased food production do not materialize, global food prices could reach even higher levels.
“After four months of consecutive price declines, food prices are on the rise again threatening the food security of millions of people,” warned Otaviano Canuto, World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM). “Putting food first must remain a priority for the international community and in our work in developing countries.”
According to the quarterly Food Price Watch report, prices of all key staples increased between last December and March of this year, except for rice, due to both abundant supply and strong competition among exporters. Maize prices increased by 9 percent, soybean oil by 7 percent, wheat by 6 percent, and sugar by 5 percent. Crude oil prices, meanwhile, rose by 13 percent.
In addition, domestic food prices remain high, especially in Africa, due to a combination of large food imports and local factors, such as trade restrictions between neighboring countries, hoarding, civil unrest, high fuel and transportation costs, and bad weather conditions.
Wal-Mart Aims to End Landfill Waste By 2025
Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke stated recently that environmental sustainability is one of the company’s top five priorities. Even small improvements in Wal-Mart’s operations can make a big difference because of the massive scale of its retail outlets and global supply chain.
“Understandably, in some areas our progress is slower than we would like, and sometimes we hit temporary roadblocks,” Duke acknowledged in a statement, as the company released an annual update of its environmental sustainability efforts.