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Burger King tries to dupe beef lovers with Impossible Whopper

Impossible Whopper.png

I love consumer choice — I really, really do. I love that I can walk into my grocery store and have an abundance of foods that I can tailor to fit my family’s needs and taste buds.

However, with an abundance of choices often comes confusion as labels scream loudly with a myriad of claims such as — vegetarian, grass-fed, organic, antibiotic-free, gluten-free, all-natural, pasture-raised, GMO-free and the list goes on.

This can be overwhelming for consumers, and I think anything that helps simplify choices made at restaurants and in grocery stores is a good thing.

A good example is the terms we use to describe certain foods. If I want apples and purchase a bag of Pink Ladies at the grocery store, I expect to find Pink Lady apples in that bag. I wouldn’t want to find something else in my bag, like grapes or oranges.

But they all have fructose, so why can’t we just call them all fruit and call it a day?

That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? We have clear and distinct terms for various types of fruit to help distinguish these items from one another in the produce section.

If the produce aisle is so clear, why are retailers insisting on creating confusion in the meat aisle? If I want to buy beef or another meat product, I expect it to have come from a cow, a pig or a chicken.

That’s why I have a hard time understanding why plant-based protein patties can be called “veggie burgers,” or why protein cells grown in a petri dish can be called meat.

Nomenclature matters in discussions like this, and our consumers deserve transparency.

The European Union has it figured out. New proposed food labeling rules would require vegetarian burgers to be renamed as “veggie discs.” Moreover, the rule would ban the use of words like “burger,” “sausage,” and “steak” to anything that does not contain actual meat derived from animals.

Read more about the rule by clicking here.

Yet, in the U.S., it seems like alternative protein companies are allowed to use our nomenclature (and our industry’s reputation for a great-tasting product) and slap it on their fake, alternative protein patties.

For example, there’s Sonic’s “Slinger,” a burger patty made with 30% mushrooms. Then there’s the Beyond Burger, a patty made from gluten-free pea protein and colored with beet juice, which is available at grocery stores nationwide. And of course, there's the popular Impossible Burger, a wheat-based patty enriched with heme to mimic the meaty flavor, aroma and cooking properties of animal meat.

In March, the Impossible Whopper was introduced as the newest item on Burger King’s menu.

And, unlike Burger King’s veggie burger which is promoted to appeal to the vegetarian crowd, the Impossible Whopper is being marketed to meat eaters.

In an advertisement about the Impossible Whopper, Burger King secretly serves consumers the plant-based version of their iconic Whopper. The commercial shows avid lovers of the beefy burger shocked and awed that the burger they just ate didn’t actually contain any beef.

Now color me confused, but that ad seems awfully tone deaf to me. At a time where consumers want transparency and honesty in labeling, Burger King is tricking their customers to unknowingly eat the plant-based version of their best-selling beef menu item.

When I order beef at a restaurant, I expect to be served beef — period. Yet, if I mistakenly order the Impossible Burger, thinking it’s a new beef burger, I will actually get a patty made of water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, soy, yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, knojac gum, anthem gun, vitamins, zinc and heme.

Yuck. And yes, “veggie discs” seem much more appropriate here.

You can learn more about Burger King’s Impossible Whopper by clicking here.

Moral of the story, words matter. What we call a food product matters. Information matters. Transparency matters. Call a protein patty made of textured wheat proteins and yeast extracts “meat” or a “burger” is not only insulting to the nation’s beef producers, but it’s doing a disservice to our consumers, too.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, April 8, 2019

Gas prices continue to rise, going up 50¢ a gallon in the last 90 days.

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators continue talks this week.

North Dakota has liberal hunting laws that permit hunters to go onto any private property if it isn't posted. New legislation has been introduced to protect landowners.

Volunteers have shown up at an ice cream shop in Iowa after the restaurant burned.

 

Photo: milanklusacek/Getty Images

MORNING Midwest Digest, April 8, 2019

The rain just keeps coming across the Midwest. And now a winter storm is headed for the Upper Midwest. 

The Omaha, Neb., newspaper has an editorial about a federal response needed to boost flood control along the Missouri River.

There was a Bobby Knight sighting over the weekend on the campus at Indiana University, for the first time in 20 years after being fired.

The Chicago Tribune had back to back stories about all the gun violence and raising the smoking age, as well as a losing marijuana bill in Illinois.

 

Photo: mdesigner125/Getty Images

Farm Progress America, April 8, 2019

Max Armstrong shares the story of an upcoming funeral for a 93-year-old dairy farmer from New York, Henry Synakowski. Max looks back on his life and why the news of his death gained attention. Synakowski died as he fled his farmhouse after the operation’s dairy barn caught fire.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This Week in Agribusiness – April 6, 2019

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge open this week’s show with a look at the importance of U.S.-Mexico trade with Veronica Nigh, American Farm Bureau Federation. Max and Steve take a look at the livestock markets with Dennis Smith, Archer Financial Services.

Part 2

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge continue their market conversation with Dennis Smith, Archer Financial Services, including a look at the potential extent of African Swine Fever in China. In Colby Agtech, Chad Colby visits with Agronomist Matt Foes to discuss spring planting and some changes he’s made to his planter this year.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge share a report from Russel Nemetz looks at a new law in Montana designed to continue support of the wheat and barley checkoff. Chad Colby looks at the process of upgrading to a new phone, which he shares is a lot easier than in the past. Max shares some Tweets of the Week including veggie burgers and a price cut at Whole Foods.

Part 4

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge open this segment with a look at blockchain, sharing what it is and what it can mean for ag in a conversation with Nigel Gopie and Jeff Keiser who discuss the Watson Decision Platform from IBM. You can learn more in a webinar at farmprogress.com/IBM2. Max and Steve visit with Farm Broadcaster Von Ketelsen, KCIM Radio, Carroll, Iowa. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead.

Part 5

Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje offers his extended look at the weather including his four-week forecast.

Part 6

In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max recently attended the Meacum Gone Farming auction including news of a John Deere 8020 owned by Dave Holla, Sleepy Eye, Minn., sold the machine for $178,500; and the McCormick Deering Mule that went for $24,000. In the FFA Chapter Tribute, Steve Bridge shares the story of the Denmark FFA, Denmark, Wis., which is involved in several programs in the community. Member Joe Schlies offers a look at why it’s important for the group to be involved in the community, where the chapter connects with consumers and increase ag literacy.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge wrap up this week’s episode with a look at the deeper impact of the floods that have hit Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri with a report from Delaney Howell. She shares that key transportation infrastructure in the region has been significantly impacted.

Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report for Apr. 6, 2019

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were steady to a touch softer in the Northern Plains this week at $126 per cwt in Nebraska and at $127-$128 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was reported at $204-$206, compared to $206 the previous week. Prices in the Southern Plains were $1-$2 lower at $124.

Through Thursday, the Five Area weighted average steer price was $124.43 on a live basis and $203.94 in the beef.      

Other than 35 cents higher in spot Apr, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.42 higher week to week on Friday.

Lighter carcass weights continue to mitigate increasing cattle numbers.

The average dressed steer weight for the week ending March 23 was 866 pounds, which was 12 pounds lighter than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight was 804 pounds, which was 11 pounds less than the prior year.

Fed cattle slaughter of 492,477 head was 11,614 head more year over year. Total cattle slaughter of 636,169 head was 24,792 head more. Beef production for the week was 9.6 million pounds more than the previous year at 508.4 million pounds.

“Carcass weights are bound to see some more decline with calf-feds on the horizon,” AMS analysts explain. “Packers are managing their inventory rather well for this time of year as end product tonnage is below a year ago.”

Listen to Wes Ishmael's Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, April 6, 2019.

More beef but potentially less per-capita supply

Improved meat trade—more exports and fewer imports—should mean slightly less domestic per-capita beef consumption this year, despite anticipated record production. That’s according to Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.

“Beef production in 2019 is projected to increase to another record at 27.2 billion pounds, up about 1.1% over last year,” Peel explains in his latest weekly market comments. “Weather impacts are holding carcass weights well below year-ago levels so far this year and annual average carcass weights are projected to only increase slightly year over year. 

“Cattle slaughter is projected to increase about 1% year over year. With beef imports projected to decrease and beef exports expected to increase again in 2019, per-capita beef consumption is expected to decrease to 56.8 pounds (retail basis), down from 57.1 pounds one year ago.” He notes these projections reflect estimates and analysis by him and the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

The same goes for total meat production and consumption.

“Total 2019 meat production in the U.S. is currently projected to reach another record level of 103.3 billion pounds, up 1.3% year over year. However, per capita meat consumption may decrease slightly to 217.3 pounds from the 2018 level of 218.6 pounds,” Peel says. 

“The decrease in per-capita meat consumption reflects improved meat trade with projected decreases in meat imports and increased meat exports along with normal population growth. Total 2019 meat imports are projected to decrease to 4.3 billion pounds, the lowest since 2013, with record meat exports of 17.4 billion pounds. Total meat includes beef, pork, broiler, turkey, other chicken, veal and lamb.”

U.S. tariff disadvantage growing

Of course, there are numerous unresolved trade issues that could impact the export picture.

For instance, starting in January, U.S. beef competitors who are part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), saw their import duty rates in Japan drop 11% to 27.5%, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). The rate was scheduled to decline to 26.6% April 1. The duty rate for U.S. beef continues at 38.5%.

Even so, U.S. beef export to Japan in January increased 8% year-over-year to 25,925 metric tons, valued at $167 million (up 12%), according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the USMEF.

“It’s great to see Japan’s demand for U.S. beef increase in January despite these tariff rate changes for our major competitors,” says Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “But this disadvantage will become more and more pronounced over time, so negotiations toward a U.S.-Japan trade agreement cannot come soon enough. The playing field needs to be leveled as quickly as possible so that the U.S. industry can continue to capitalize on booming meat demand in Japan.”

Overall U.S. beef exports in January were 1% less than the previous year at 104,766 metric tons. Export value increased 3% to $642.3 million. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $284.86, down 3% from a year earlier.

Pasture prospects bolster calf prices

Looming, promising pasture underpinned calf and feeder cattle prices this week. Nationwide, steers and heifers traded steady to $3 per cwt higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

“There was good to very good demand for steers and heifers weighing less than 700 pounds and suitable for grazing,” according to AMS analysts. “As the calendar turns to April, grass is expected to pop very soon if warmer temperatures can move into the Plains and the upper Midwest. 

“Flint Hills calves haven't been turned out yet, but ranchers are chomping at the bit. Slow grass growth is due to the colder-than-normal temperatures and waterlogged soil conditions throughout the midsection of the country.”

Most of the nation is drought-free following the extraordinarily wet winter, according to the most recent U.S.Drought Monitor. There are pockets of abnormally dry conditions—some moderate drought—in the Northwest and Southwest, along the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast.

Winter wheat condition is running well ahead of last year with 56% rated Good (45%) or Excellent (11%) for the week ending March 31, according to the season’s first Crop Progress report from USDA. That’s 24% more than the same time a year ago. 9% was rated in Poor (7%) or Very Poor (2%) condition, compared to 30% the previous year.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center calls for above-normal precipitation across most of the nation from May through July.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 81 cents higher week to week on Friday. The final gain in a seesaw trading week came with Thursday’s bounce on the coattails of Lean Hog futures, which increased an average of $9.70 higher from Monday through Friday (near May to Dec). 

The surge in Lean Hogs and increased volatility of late continues to revolve around speculation concerning China’s apparent need to import more meat to fill the void left by African Swine Fever. At the same time, trader optimism that a U.S.-China trade pact is near bolstered equity and commodity markets.

Fed cattle prices soften

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were steady to a touch softer in the Northern Plains this week at $126 per cwt in Nebraska and at $127-$128 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was reported at $204-$206, compared to $206 the previous week. Prices in the Southern Plains were $1-$2 lower at $124.

Through Thursday, the Five Area weighted average steer price was $124.43 on a live basis and $203.94 in the beef.    

Other than 35 cents higher in spot Apr, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.42 higher week to week on Friday. 

Lighter carcass weights continue to mitigate increasing cattle numbers.

The average dressed steer weight for the week ending March 23 was 866 pounds, which was 12 pounds lighter than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight was 804 pounds, which was 11 pounds less than the prior year. 

Fed cattle slaughter of 492,477 head was 11,614 head more year over year. Total cattle slaughter of 636,169 head was 24,792 head more. Beef production for the week was 9.6 million pounds more than the previous year at 508.4 million pounds.

“Carcass weights are bound to see some more decline with calf-feds on the horizon,” AMS analysts explain. “Packers are managing their inventory rather well for this time of year as end product tonnage is below a year ago.”

Moreover, the beef market should be nearing heavy seasonal demand. Choice wholesale beef value was 89 cents higher week to week on Friday at $226.93 per cwt. Select was $1.39 higher at $220.28.

Cull prices should improve

Although total dairy and beef cow slaughter delayed and muted the seasonal rally in cull cow prices, David Anderson, Extension livestock economist at Texas A&M University, expects to see improvement.

“Presumably, dairy cow marketings will decline later in the year as increased culling has an effect on milk production and prices. Some milk market recovery should lead to higher milk prices and slower culling rates,” Anderson explains in the latest issue of In the cattle Markets

“The slowing rate of growth of the beef cowherd should slow beef cow marketings. The combination of slowing culling, limiting the growth in supplies, should provide some price support.”

In the meantime, Anderson points out cull cow prices in the Southern Plains climbed about $13 from January to the end of March to $53 per cwt.

Anderson notes prices increased in the face of the most beef and dairy cow slaughter since drought-borne liquidation in 2012-13.

“Dairy cow slaughter exceeded 70,000 head per week for that last five weeks. The 72,700 head sent to market the first week of March was the largest weekly dairy cow slaughter since 1986,” Anderson says. 

“Some readers might remember the Dairy Herd Buyout program that contributed to large dairy cow slaughter in 1986. Beef cow slaughter dropped below last year’s levels by mid-March, 53,000 head compared to 56,000 head this time last year.” 

Teachers get creative in teaching ag in school

National Ag In The Classroom

I’m always surprised by which BEEF Daily blog posts get the most traction. I try to cover a wide range of topics from production management tips to fake meats to consumer trends to working alongside family in multi-generational operations.

In turn, your engagement on social media helps me better understand which topics resonate with you the most and what you would like to read more about.

One of my most popular posts to date has been, “Ag education desperately needed in schools.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“Agricultural education isn’t just for rural school kids; it should be a requirement in every urban school across the country as well. Kids should be outside, working with their hands and learning the meaning of hard work, the circle of life and the difference between pets and livestock.

“More than that, agriculture should be, and can easily be, incorporated into core subjects like math, science, reading and social studies.”

What I’ve learned through this post is so many of you recognize the importance of teaching agricultural literacy in schools. Yet, agricultural education continues to be on the chopping block in so many schools for various reasons, from budget cuts to demands for better standardized testing scores to rigid syllabuses to administrators not valuing hands-on learning.

In agricultural courses, students have the opportunity to learn how to weld, change a tire, plant a seed, grow a garden, raise chickens and eggs, cut wood in the shop or study the soil. These skills can be utilized into adulthood. And guess what? They also require an understanding of the core subjects that are so critical for our students.

As a mom of three, I appreciate our educators who go above and beyond to bring some of these unconventional lessons into their classrooms.

Each year, the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Farm Credit honor teachers who are innovative in introducing agricultural concepts into the classroom.

Last week, these three partner organizations announced eight teachers to be selected for the 2019 National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award.

“We are proud to honor these teachers who use agricultural concepts to deliver important reading, writing, math, nutrition, science and social studies lessons to students,” said Victoria LeBeaux, the National Agriculture in the Classroom program leader for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This organization provides federal leadership and annual funding for NAITC. “The real-life connections teachers make by using items students use every day resonates with these students.”

According to an April 3 press release, this year’s winning teachers are:

  • Rachel Chastain, a special needs teacher at the Helen Keller Campus of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega, Ala., whose students learn about agriculture and animal husbandry by rearing chickens and other small farm animals on school grounds.
  • Andy Klatt, a physical education teacher at Grandview Elementary in Windsor, Colo., who uses a school garden and an after-school garden club to teach students throughout the school about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
  • A team of five teachers - Dawn Chehab, Joshua Garrett, John Martinez, Erica Roberts and Nicholas Zebroski – at Millennia Gardens Elementary School in Orlando, Fla. They established an ‘Eco-Club’ to teach students in third through fifth grade about growing food in raised bed gardens and hydroponics towers, protecting the environment and being good stewards of the land with a wildlife sanctuary and developing alternative energy sources with a ‘Pedal-A-Watt’ bicycling station that powers the school garden irrigation system.
  • Beth Sletta, a STEM teacher at Jefferson Elementary in New Ulm, Minn. Her students designed a winter seed sowing system to grow vegetables when it’s too cold to grow them outside and use a 3-D printer to design longer lasting plant stakes, among other initiatives.
  • Johnnie Keel, a math and gifted teacher at Truman Elementary in Oklahoma City, Okla., whose third, fourth and fifth graders research farm equipment designs online and build miniature versions of this machinery using Legos. They also participate in a STEM Day to learn about chemistry and genetics in agriculture, among other projects.
  • Dawn Alexander, a fifth-grade teacher at Tom McCall Elementary in Redmond, Ore., who uses bees and a project called ‘Please the Bees’ to educate students about agriculture and the environment.
  • Brad Hendershot, a science teacher at Excelsior Academy in Salt Lake City, Utah, whose sixth, seventh and eighth graders participate in a special class called Greenthumbs. They work in two schoolyard greenhouses to grow, harvest, market and sell their fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants.
  • Chris Kniesly, a life science teacher at Twain Middle School in Alexandria, Va., whose students grow lettuce hydroponically, raise crayfish, cultivate mushrooms and produce hot compost to learn important plant biology and aquaculture lessons.

These educators will be honored at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “AgVenture in the Natural State” June 19-21 at the Little Rock Marriott in Little Rock, Ark.

Do you know an educator who would be deserving of this award? Email me or join the conversation on Facebook. We would love to hear about the amazing teachers in your communities who are introducing their students to agriculture in fun and creative ways.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

 

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, April 5, 2019

How do you feel about the social media? Your perspective may demand on how much time you send on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows many of us have negative views toward social media brands like Facebook and Twitter with sizeable majority saying these sites do more to divide the country than unite it. They also spread falsehoods rather than news. The poll showed 6 in 10 Americans don’t trust Facebook at all to protect their personal information. There were two polling firms, one described tied to Republicans and one described tied to Democrats.

The monthly farmers sentiment index from Purdue University/CME Group declined three points. This monthly survey showed 21% of farmers expect their financial performance to be better in 2019 than in 2018. This covers all types of producers.