In 2018, Springdale-based Tyson Foods held on to its top ranking for the most chicken production with 39.03 million heads slaughtered for a live weight of 235.32 million pounds each week.
The weekly slaughter count at Tyson Foods last year was up 15.29% from 2017, according to the WattAgNet recent industry rankings report. The rankings were in the order of the ready-to-cook weights from the weekly slaughter and production. Tyson’s ready-to-cook production was 192.33 million pounds per week last year,
Tyson also was the largest employer in the industry last year with 127,187 employees which was more than double the second largest employer, Pilgrim’s Pride with 51,300. Tyson Foods is a global company and Pilgrim’s Pride is the U.S. poultry arm of Brazilian meat giant JBS.SA. Pilgrim’s, through JBS, is the second largest chicken producer in Mexico after acquiring Tyson’s Mexican interest several years ago. In 2018, Tyson widened the gap between it’s next closest competitor, Pilgrim’s Pride with several acquisitions, the largest was Keystone Foods at $2.16 billion. Keystone was formerly ranked the No. 10 largest chicken producer which did positively impact Tyson’s chicken revenue in fiscal 2018.
Tyson reported chicken sales of $13.786 billion, higher than Pilgrim’s $11.039 billion. Ranking third for overall sales in 2018 was Perdue Foods at $3.835 billion, while Koch Foods and Sanderson Farms rounded out the top five at $3.3 billion and $3.236 billion, respectively.
Other Arkansas chicken companies also showed increased production in 2018. George’s Inc. of Springdale was ranked No. 9 for weekly liveweight production at 34.08 million pounds. The company’s weekly live-weight production increased 29.88% over the year-ago period. The ready-to-cook weight was 29.32 pounds per week last year. In 2018, George’s acquired Ozark Mountain Poultry of Rogers in 2018 which added to the company’s overall sales, but the private company declined to give sales numbers for last year. Ozark Mountain Poultry was formerly ranked No. 21 by WattAgNet.
OK Foods ranked No. 16 for overall production last year with a weekly liveweight production at 17.35 million pounds. Simmons Foods was No. 17 with a liveweight production of 19.4 million pounds a week, which was flat to the prior year. Those rankings are based on the ready-to-cook production which was 13.88 million pounds a week for OK Foods and 13.62 million pounds per week for Simmons Foods.
OK Foods is owned by Mexico-based Bachoco and operates as a subsidiary of that company. In 2017, Simmons Foods is in the process of building a $300 million plant in Benton County to process fresh and frozen chicken products for retail and restaurant customers. This plant will add about 850 million pounds of poultry meat to the company’s annual production when it comes online later this year.
While the poultry sector remains a fragmented industry, Arkansas-based companies comprised a 28% share of the total production last year with a total of 249.15 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken processed. That included: Tyson Foods, George’s, Simmons Foods and OK Foods. The industry rankings showed 29 poultry producers with a total weekly liveweight production of 904.1 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken.
The top five rankings of chicken processors for 2018 based on weekly ready-to-cook chicken processed include:
No. 1 Tyson Foods, 21.27% market share
No. 2 Pilgrim’s Pride, 17.25% market share
No. 3 Sanderson Farms, 9.57% market share
No. 4 Perdue Foods, 7.12% market share
No. 5 Koch Foods, 5.53% market share