Minneapolis-based Cargill is out with an earnings report showing the recall of 18,000 tons of ground turkey and the associated plant closure coincides with one of its "weakest quarters" ever for its meat business.
Cargill said it earned $100 million from continuing operations for the fiscal 2012 quarter ended Nov. 30, 2011 but it represents an 88 percent decrease from the $832 million earned during the same period a year earlier.
During the costly quarter, Cargill initiated the recall on Aug. 3 of ground turkey associated with a nationwide outbreak of drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg. It also shut down its ground turkey plant at Springdale, AR.. It did not reopen until Dec. 19.
Cargill revenue during the quarter was up 17 percent, reaching $33.3 billion, up from 28.5 billion a year earlier.
"The second quarter was significantly below expectations, especially in contrast to last year when we posted our strongest quarter ever," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer.
Page blames commodity and financial markets, the company's poor performance in the sugar market, and one-time costs along with the weak meat business for the earnings decline.
The quarter obviously was not a good one either for the 136 people from 34 states infected with the drug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg after eating ground turkey. One person died. The illnesses were contracted between July 29 and Aug. 3.
The Cargill ground turkey recall was the third largest meat recall in U.S. history.