World in brief

Meat Processing

Ex-Cargill manager fights attempt to keep him from rival

CHICAGO (Reuters) — Valuable trade secrets that Cargill Inc. says were stolen by a longtime manager in its meatpacking division who quit for rival JBS, are nothing more than basic butchery, lawyers for the employee said in court documents.

Privately held Cargill, a top U.S. meat producer, is asking a federal judge in Denver to forbid Jason Kuan from working for a competitor for one year to prevent damages stemming from the loss of confidential information.

The dispute illustrates the intense competition among meat producers and processors at a time when beef prices are at record highs and the U.S. cattle herd is at a 60 year low.

In August, Cargill sued Kuan, who led its “case-ready” meat unit in Canada, for allegedly copying hundreds of company documents after he had a job offer from JBS in Colorado. Kuan, who worked for Cargill for 20 years, did not return the documents when he resigned, according to the complaint.

Kuan’s lawyers denied that he stole materials, according to a court filing this week. They said this month that Cargill’s worries about the potential disclosure of trade secrets were misplaced because the meat industry is not highly technical.

Markets

East Africa-EU deal renewed

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) — Five East African nations have reached a deal with the European Union to renew a duty-free export regime for the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers they sell to the 28-nation bloc.

The deal, which is expected to take effect early next year, came after earlier negotiations failed to meet a Sept. 30 deadline, which means the five countries’ horticulture exports have been subject to EU customs duty since Oct. 1.

The economic partnership agreements must still be ratified by the European Parliament and the five members of the East African Community: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

World Hunger

South Sudan faces famine

LONDON, U.K. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Famine could strike another million people across South Sudan early next year if the civil war escalates, a recent report states.

Aid agencies fear an imminent upsurge in fighting once the rainy season ends this month, which could wipe out recent efforts to avert famine and push areas of the world’s youngest country into starvation by March next year.

Some 10,000 people have died and 1.7 million, one seventh of the population, have been displaced since conflict broke out between president Salva Kiir’s government forces and rebels allied to his former deputy, Reek Machar.

Tariq Riebl, head of Oxfam in South Sudan, said humanitarian aid is vital, but a political resolution is urgent.

“If the international community really wants to avert a famine, then it has to make bold diplomatic efforts to bring both sides to end fighting,” Riebl said.

The report said nearly 2.2 million people face starvation, despite significant international aid and a recent lull in fighting because of the wet season.

Malnutrition was also a serious concern because the conflict has limited food production, disrupted markets and pushed up food prices.

Statistics

USDA to restart U.S. oilseed crush reports

(Reuters) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking over a series of industrial grain and oilseed reports that the U.S. Census Bureau discontinued in 2011.

However, the department will not begin publishing data until next year.

The reports, which include statistics for the dry and wet alcohol milling and flour milling sectors, as well as the cotton, fats and oilseeds industries, were discontinued due to census budget cuts.

Traders and analysts followed them to gauge monthly consumption of grains and oilseeds.

The soon to be resumed reports include the soybean crush report, which provided key data on how many soybeans were processed into soyoil and soymeal each month. Trade sources had hoped the reports would resume late this year.

However, Alex Minchenkov, a spokesperson for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said, “it’s not going to be this year.”

Weather casts doubt on coffee harvest

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) — Brazil’s National Coffee Council said the climate outlook is unfavourable for the country’s 2015 coffee crop, citing forecasts that see little chance of rain in the country’s main growing regions for the near future.

Coffee trees that have suffered from drought this year could still yield a normal crop next year, the council said in a statement, but they would need rain in the next few days.

Such rain was unlikely before Oct. 23, according to weather forecasting firm Somar, whose outlook was cited by the council.

“We believe the drought should damage the next harvest, but it is still too early to define the extent because that is completely dependent on the rains,” said the coffee council.

Council president Silas Brasileiro had previously said next year’s crop may dip below 40 million bags, which would make it the country’s smallest since 2009.

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