Tyson Foods gets ‘Smart Chicken’ brand in acquisition of Tecumseh Poultry

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 947 views 

The Tyson Foods buying spree continues. The Springdale-based company announced Monday (June 4) the acquisition of Tecumseh Poultry, a company that touts its humane methods of processing all organic “Smart Chicken” branded products.

Neither company disclosed transaction terms. The statement said Tyson Foods plans to operate Tecumseh Poultry as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary and expects to retain its 600 employees, including operations staff, sales teams and management.

Waverly, Neb.-based Tecumseh Poultry was founded in 1998 and produces air-chilled, fresh chicken, and deli-style chicken and a variety of chicken sausages. The air-chilling process involves using cold air to cool chicken during processing, while the most common method used by the U.S. chicken industry is water-chilling.

“Consumers want choices. More and more consumers want options for fresh, organic food that fits their lifestyles,” Eric Schwartz, chief marketing officer of Poultry for Tyson Foods, said in the statement. “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.”

According to Nielsen’s Perishables data, organic fresh chicken grew sales volume by 8.6% from 2016 to 2017, more than four times the rate of conventional poultry. The Tyson Foods statement claims that Tecumseh Poultry’s Smart Chicken brand has a leading position in the fastest-growing U.S. category of fresh chicken.

Tecumseh has two Nebraska plants located in Tecumseh and Waverly, Neb., and live operations.

“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,” said Kevin Siebert, president of Tecumseh. “Tyson Foods brings to the Smart Chicken brand and the rest of our product lines the resources to make us even stronger.”

Tyson Foods also produces organic products under its NatureRaised Farms and Aidells brands. D.A. Davidson & Co. served as financial advisor to Tecumseh Poultry in the transaction.

Following are other acquisitions announced in recent months by Tyson Foods.

Tyson Foods announced May 15 plans to acquire the poultry rendering assets of American Proteins and AMPRO Products for $850 million. The deal will allow the company to recycle more animal products for feed, pet food and aquaculture and expand its animal feed business footprint. The acquisition includes four rendering plants in Georgia and Alabama and 13 blending facilities in southeastern and midwestern states.

• Grain operations
Tyson Foods announced Feb. 14 plans to acquire a grain elevator operations located in western Tennessee to support its poultry business expansion underway in that region. Tyson Foods is buying the elevators located in Dyer, Humble and Kenton, Tenn., from the the grain division of The Andersons Grain Group for an undisclosed figure. This grain operation will support Tyson Foods’ existing complexes located in Union City, Tenn., as well as its planned chicken complex in Humboldt.

• Memphis Meats
Tyson Foods said in January its venture capital segment made an undisclosed investment in Memphis Meats, a startup that focuses on producing meat protein from animal cells in a laboratory, eliminating the roles of cattle and chicken farmers. Terms of the investment were not disclosed, but Tyson Foods joins Microsoft founder Bill Gates and competitor Cargill who have also invested in Memphis Meats. Memphis Meats is the second alternative protein venture funded by Tyson Foods.

In 2017, Tyson’s venture capital group invested in California-based Beyond Meat, a venture geared toward non-animal protein that is consumed by a growing number of vegetarians.

• Philly deal
The company announced in November 2017 the purchase of Original Philly Holdings for an undisclosed price. The Philadelphia-based maker of raw and fully-cooked Philly-style sandwich steak and cheese steak appetizer products will be part of Tyson Foods’ diverse prepared foods segment. The Original Philly Holdings will likely help Tyson Foods grow sales in prepared foods and also in the convenience store retail segment.