Sales of the product called “finely textured beef” are rebounding as meat prices rise and consumers seek cheaper alternatives. Production dropped two years ago when the term “pink slime” flooded the airwaves and the Internet, so Cargill and BPI shut down plants where they produced the product.
Mike Martin, a Cargill spokesman, says had sales dropped off by 80-percent but they’re coming back. “We’re currently in the neighborhood of about 60% of our current capacity to produce finely textured beef,” Martin says. Cargill does not plan to reopen the plants that shut down.
Some stores quit carrying the beef product while others added labels. Cargill and BPI say with beef prices rising, more retailers and restaurants are returning to buy the product made from beef trimmings and treated to reduce bacteria.
Erik Connolly, spokesman for BPI, recalls what happened in March of 2012 during what he calls the “disinformation campaign,” which is subject of a lawsuit. Connolly says, “Our sales decreased significantly, since then, our sales have come up some.” BPI is suing ABC News for defamation over the use of the term “pink slime”.
BPI closed three factories in 2012 that made the product, in Kansas, Texas and in Waterloo, Iowa, eliminating some 700 jobs. Only one plant remains open in South Sioux City, Nebraska.