Beef, it's what's for dinner thanks to National Beef Packing Co. (NBPC). One of the biggest US beef processor, it produces name brand boxed, case-ready, portion-controlled, and other fresh and frozen beef products for 900-plus domestic and export markets. The company offers Naturewell Natural Beef and NatureSource brand beef, marketed as US-raised, corn and pasture grass-fed Angus cattle, free of antibiotics or added hormones. National Carriers, a 700-unit refrigerated trucking subsidiary, transports the meaty lineup within the US. Leucadia in 2011 acquired about a 79% stake in the beef processor (formerly 68% controlled by beef producers) and NBPC's parent U.S. Premium Beef, which markets beef through NBPC.
The takeover by Leucadia reflects NBPC's frustrated attempt to raise additional capital. To this end, National Beef, Inc. (NBI) was created to enable NBPC to enter the stock market. NBI filed an IPO with the SEC in fall 2009, but postponed selling the shares due to a lack of public investors.
Meanwhile, NBPC has grown through acquisition. In 2009 it acquired Prime Tanning Leathers. Renamed National Beef Leathers, the company sells hides to tanners, who use the tanned pieces to produce finished leather goods for the automotive, luxury goods, apparel, and furniture industries.
NBPC also holds a majority interest in Kansas City Steak Company, which sells beef and other products to foodservice operators and retailers. Kansas City Steak sells to consumers, too, through direct mail, the Internet, and the home-shopping cable television channel, QVC.
Wal-Mart and SAM'S CLUB together have accounted for about 10% of NBPC's sales. Other NBPC customers include food retailers C&S Grocers and Topco; branded meat companies Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, and ConAgra; and foodservice operators SYSCO and U.S. Foodservice. The beef processor does business with Beef Products, Inc., too, a customer that both purchases NBPC beef trimmings and sells processed lean beef to NBPC.
Eldon Roth, founder and chairman of Beef Products Inc., owns a minority interest in NBPC (through NBPCo Holdings). Roth is the inventor of a process for producing 95% lean ground beef from fatty beef trimmings, which otherwise have little value.
NBPC itself was the target of an acquisition in 2008 by rival Brazilian meat producer, JBS. It was forced to drop its bid for NBPC after the US Department of Justice filed a suit to block the sale, claiming that the acquisition would place more than 80% of the US's cattle slaughter capacity in the hands of three companies -- JBS, Tyson, and Cargill. A similar suit was also filed by the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, the United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF) and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM). – less