Tyson Foods Inc. is expanding its production of organic branded chicken through the acquisition of Tecumseh Poultry LLC. The purchase includes the air-chilled Smart Chicken brand. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed.
Tecumseh Poultry was founded in 1998 and produces air-chilled, fresh chicken, as well as deli-style chicken and a variety of chicken sausages. The air-chilling process involves using cold air to cool chicken during processing, as opposed to the most common method used by the U.S. chicken industry—water-chilling. Both methods are monitored by USDA inspectors and are considered safe.
“Consumers want choices. More and more consumers want options for fresh, organic food that fits their lifestyles,” said Eric Schwartz, chief marketing officer of poultry for Tyson. “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 percent from 2016 to 2017, more than four times the rate of conventional poultry. Tecumseh Poultry’s processing capabilities and its focus on quality have given the Smart Chicken brand a leading position in the fastest-growing U.S. category of fresh chicken, says Tyson.
The company’s operations include two plants located in Tecumseh and Waverly, Nebraska, as well as live operations. Tyson plans to operate Tecumseh Poultry as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary and expects to retain its approximately 600 team members, 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. 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.”
“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,” said Doug Ramsey, Tyson group president of poultry. “Customers should continue to work with existing contacts.”
Tyson Foods also produces organic products under its NatureRaised Farms and Aidells brands.