SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Tyson Foods, Inc. is boosting its presence in the organic chicken market with the acquisition of Tecumseh Poultry L.L.C. Financial terms of the transaction, which includes the air-chilled Smart Chicken brand, were not disclosed.
Founded in 1998, Tecumseh produces fresh chicken, as well as deli-style chicken and chicken sausages. The air-chilling process involves using cold air to cool chicken during processing. According to Tyson, most companies in the U.S. chicken industry use a water-chilling process.
“Consumers want choices,” said Eric Schwartz, chief marketing officer of poultry at Tyson Foods. “More and more consumers want options for fresh, organic food that fits their lifestyles. 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.”
Tyson currently produces organic products under its NatureRaised Farms and Aidells brands.
Demand for organic fresh chicken has been on the rise, according to Tyson. Citing data from Nielsen’s Perishables, Tyson said organic fresh chicken sales volume increased 8.6% between 2016 and 2017, which was more than four times the growth rate of conventional poultry.
Tyson’s acquisition of Tecumseh Poultry includes two plants, located in Tecumseh and Waverly, Neb., as well as live operations. Tyson said it plans to operate Tecumseh Poultry as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary and expects to retain its approximately 600 employees, including operations staff, sales teams and management.
“We’ve spent 18 years working to perfect our ability to produce the highest-quality, fresh chicken in the U.S.,” said Kevin Siebert, president of Tecumseh Poultry. “We’re very proud of that, and it’s not going to change. Tyson Foods brings to the Smart Chicken brand and the rest of our product lines the resources to make us even stronger.”
Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson Foods, added, “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. Customers should continue to work with existing contacts.”