Sanderson Farms reported fiscal 1Q10 earnings this morning for the period ending January 31 and despite the significant sequential improvement in casual dining top-line trends in January as reported by Malcolm Knapp, the company is less than optimistic about current food service demand trends. Specifically, the company stated in its press release, “Our food service business remains soft, reflecting the prolonged slowdown in restaurant traffic caused by current economic conditions. We expect these demand trends to continue until we see a meaningful improvement in the national job market and consumers resume spending and dining out again.”
Management went on to say on its earnings call that increased demand in the food service segment relies on “getting jobs back in large numbers,” which it does not think will materialize this year. Although management said we could see some improvement in food service trends this year, it does not expect a return to robust demand for some time. That being said, demand for chicken at the retail grocery level remains strong.