Tyson Foods

I subscribe to a poultry industry e-newsletter that provides a daily list of pertinent worldwide articles. What people who buy a dozen eggs a week, or a broiler a few times a month, don’t realize is how huge, international and powerful this industry is. This newsletter gives a window into that world.

But, despite the incredible volume of poultry products on the global market, it’s organic poultry that is getting a premium price. The other segments of the industry have miniscule profit margins – they make their money by selling on a huge scale. Also, it’s hard to develop brand recognition in the supermarket. Chickens and eggs really do look alike. So, the big producers want a part of that organic pie – they want high profits and high volume and they think the key to that is to tap into the organic market.

Tyson Foods wants to be able to charge more for their chickens. So, they went to the USDA and got a label approved for a chicken raised without antibiotics. They’ve spent tens of millions of dollars promoting their new line. They’ve got big plans for introducing prepared foods using it.

Then, someone at the USDA blew the whistle. Tyson uses an “antimicrobial” feed additive. They say it’s not an “antibiotic.” Tyson thinks the issue will be resolved soon and they can go on making the American housewife feel that she is a hero to her family for buying such a pure, clean food. (I’m paraphrasing – but that’s what the Tyson ads are touting.)

The American public hasn’t gotten wind of this yet. But, when they do, once again, the consumer will become wary and jaded. They won’t believe anyone’s claims. Which will leave the small producer who is truly raising a good product, yet again having to convince the public that their poultry and eggs really are different. The consumer needs to do more than pick up a package because it says “no anitibiotics” or even “organic,” but that’s too much work for most harried customers. The PR job will be left to each small farmer, and that’s a hard job (when farming is hard and time-consuming enough!)

To read the full text of the article go here. Scroll down until you find the Tyson Told it Can’t Use Raised Without Antibiotics Label.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey (that is, my American HenBlog readers who celebrate this national eating fest.) And for those of you with poultry in your backyards, especially the lucky ones who have some big bronze turkeys strutting about, toss them an extra handful of corn for me.

My Thanksgiving celebration involves pie. A lot of pie. More on that in my next blog.

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