Yesterday, we mentioned that Merck had readied a plan to expedite the end of its own voluntary withdrawal of Zilmax® from the late stage cattle feed/fattening markets, in Canada and the United States. As a voluntary withdrawal, Merck needs no regulator approval (FDA or USDA) to reintroduce the feed/drug supplement. However, it will need. . . some customers. Buyers, that is, of the cattle so fed.
And tonight, one of the world’s largest purchasers of beef-yielding cattle is. . . pretty plainly balking. Cargill Inc., today said it will buy no cattle that will be un-acceptable to Japanese markets (or, said another way) until it is “100 per cent certain” that Zilmax is safe, in the way it is being used. That likely means Merck needs a longitudinal study of some sort. And that could take a few. . . years.
Ouch. Of course, Whitehouse Station might push forward — trying to convince other packers to ignore Cargill’s newly-articulated stance.
But the rub will be at the ranchers’ level — many of them, perhaps most of them — cannot afford to have Cargill close its doors on their product. The ranchers need every available market. That means, in all likelihood, the ranchers won’t buy much of Merck’s Zilmax, near-term, even if Merck re-introduces it very shortly. At least, they won’t buy much until Cargill says it will buy the cattle fed Zilmax, once again. So this is a bit of a jam, at present, for the long-suffering Animal Health folks, originally from Organon, then bought by legacy Schering-Plough, only to be sold again, to Merck. Hard luck, that.
Here is the Global Post story on it — and a bit. Do go read it all:
. . . .Cargill Inc, one of the world’s largest beef processors, threw a wrench into Merck & Co.’s plans to reintroduce its feed additive Zilmax, stating it will not accept Zilmax-fed beef into the Cargill supply chain “until we are 100 percent confident the animal welfare issues are resolved.”
Cargill told Reuters Wednesday its ban on Zilmax applies both to beef it processes, as well as to cattle in its own feed lots. In addition, Cargill said it will not use Zilmax-fed beef “until Asia and other trading partners accept it in their markets. . . .”
Well now, this is shaping up to be a real big league show-down — two mega-billion dollar multi-national public companies, going toe-to-toe. Do stay tuned, right here — we will (as always) keep you informed. [And, congrats to my Boston back-bay cousins/bros. . . first at-home Series win — since 1918! Nice.]