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Tyson Foods Acquires Nebraska-Based Smart Chicken

Tyson Foods Acquires Nebraska-Based Smart Chicken

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

To push into organic chicken, Tyson Foods is looking to acquire Nebraska-based Tecumseh Poultry, which will include the coveted and air-chilled Smart Chicken® brand. With this purchase, the company will bolster its organic, fresh chicken and chicken sausage offerings to combat competing poultry businesses as organic interest increases. Further, this new development comes on the heels of Kohlberg & Company’s recent purchase of several Tyson Foods’ brands—including the Chef Pierre®, Bistro Collection®, and Van’s® brands, as well as the license to use its Sara Lee® brand. These efforts are to bolster its protein portfolio.

Eric Schwartz, Managing Director, Castle Harlan“Consumers want choices. More and more consumers want options for fresh, organic food that fits their lifestyles,” Chief Marketing Officer of Poultry for Tyson Foods, Eric Schwartz, said. “The Smart Chicken brand is a leader in this key organic category, and the category’s growth makes this acquisition a strategic fit for Tyson Foods.”

Over four times the rate of conventional poultry, organic and fresh chicken sales have jumped 8.6 percent in volume between 2016 and 2017, according to a press release. With Tecumseh Poultry’s processing and its Smart Chicken brand, Tyson is aligning itself with this growth to further boost its protein offerings and, consequently, sales.

“We’ve spent 18 years working to perfect our ability to produce the highest-quality fresh chicken in the U.S. We’re very proud of that, and it’s not going to change,” President of Tecumseh Poultry, Kevin Siebert, expressed. “Tyson Foods brings to the Smart Chicken brand and the rest of our product lines the resources to make us even stronger.”

This deal includes two plants that are located in Tecumseh and Waverly, Nebraska, and the live operations they entail. Founded in 1998, Tecumseh Poultry produces air-chilled, fresh chicken and deli-style chicken, as well as different types of chicken sausage. The air-chilled process uses cold air to cool the chicken during processing, rather than using water-chilling. Both methods are closely watched by the USDA. With this purchase, Tyson will operate Tecumseh Poultry as a separate, wholly-owned subsidiary, with the 600-person operations, sales, and management teams likely to stay on deck.

Doug Ramsey, Group President of Poultry, Tyson Foods“This is a well-run company with a solid customer base that’s earned consumer loyalty. We’re excited for Tecumseh to continue to produce quality chicken while providing the business the scale and resources it needs to continue growing,” President of Poultry for Tyson Foods, Doug Ramsey, shared. “Customers should continue to work with existing contacts.”

What will this new purchase mean for Tyson Foods’ footprint in the organic poultry sector, and how will this reflect on other industry leaders’ acquisition decisions? Deli Market News will continue to report.

Tyson Foods

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Tyson Foods, Inc., founded in 1935, is one of the world's largest producers of chicken, beef, pork, and prepared foods.

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