Tyson Foods

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Tyson Foods, Inc.
Traded asNYSETSN (Class A)
S&P 500 Component
ISINUS9024941034 Edit this on Wikidata
IndustryFood processing
Founded1935; 85 years ago (1935)
FounderJohn W. Tyson
HeadquartersSpringdale, Arkansas, U.S.
Key people
John H. Tyson
  • Increase US$ 40.052 billion (2018) [1]
  • Increase US$ 38.260 billion (2017) [1]
  • Increase US$ 3.055 billion (2018) [1]
  • Increase US$ 2.931 billion (2017) [1]
  • Increase US$ 3.027 billion (2018) [1]
  • Increase US$ 1.778 billion (2017) [1]
Total assets
  • Increase US$ 29.109 billion (2018) [1]
  • Increase US$ 23.956 billion (2014) [2]
Total equity
  • Increase US$ 12.811 billion (2018) [1]
  • Increase US$ 10.559 billion (2017) [1]
Number of employees

Tyson Foods, Inc. is an American multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas, that operates in the food industry. The company is the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork after JBS S.A. and annually exports the largest percentage of beef out of the United States. Together with its subsidiaries, it operates major food brands, including Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Wright Brand, Aidells, and State Fair.[3] Tyson Foods ranked No. 80 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.[4]


The company was established by John W. Tyson in 1935,[5] and benefited during World War II when chicken was not included in foods that were rationed.[6] As of 2014, the company employs 115,000 people, who work at more than 300 facilities, over 100 of which are in the US.[5] Tyson had about 97,000 employees in 27 states; locations are concentrated in the Midwest, with 16 locations in Arkansas, 11 in Texas, 9 in Iowa, and the remainder of the mostly eastern US with less than 3–4 locations.[5] Tyson also works with 6,729 independent contract chicken growers.[citation needed]

Tyson is one of the largest U.S. marketers of chicken, beef and pork to retail grocers, broad line foodservice distributors and national fast food and full-service restaurant chains; fresh beef and pork; frozen and fully cooked chicken, beef and pork products; case-ready beef and pork; supermarket deli chicken products; meat toppings for the pizza industry and retail frozen pizza; club store chicken, beef and pork; ground beef and flour tortillas. It supplies Yum! Brands chains that use chicken, including KFC and Taco Bell, as well as McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Wal-Mart, Kroger, IGA, Beef O'Brady's, small restaurant businesses, and prisons.[citation needed]

The company makes a wide variety of animal-based and prepared products at its 123 food processing plants. It produces many different products, including Buffalo wings, boneless Buffalo wings, chicken nuggets, and tenders. Every week, its 54 chicken plants, 13 beef plants, and six pork plants slaughter and package 42.5 million chickens, 170,938 cattle, and 347,891 pigs. Their largest meat packing facility is their beef production plant in Dakota City, Nebraska. Other plants include feed mills, hatcheries, farms and tanneries.[citation needed]

Acquisitions and investments

The Tyson logo, used as a corporate logo from 1978 to 2017. It has been used, with minor changes, since 1972. It continues to be used as a logo on Tyson brand products.

In 2001, Tyson Foods acquired IBP, Inc., the largest beef packer and number two pork processor in the United States., for US$3.2 billion in cash and stock.[7] Along with its purchase of IBP, it also acquired the naming rights to an event center in Sioux City, Iowa.[8] Tyson has also acquired such companies as Hudson Foods Company, Garrett poultry, Washington Creamery, Franz Foods, Prospect Farms, Krispy Kitchens, Ocoma Foods, Cassady Broiler, Vantress Pedigree, Wilson Foods, Honeybear Foods, Mexican Original, Valmac Industries, Heritage Valley, Lane Poultry, Cobb-Vantress, Holly Farms, Wright Brand Foods, Inc. and Don Julio Foods. On May 29, 2014, the company announced a $6.13 billion cash offer to acquire all the shares in Hillshire Brands, two days after a $6.4 billion cash and shares bid for Hillshire by Pilgrim's Corp.[9] In June 2014, Tyson won the bidding war against Pilgrim's Pride, agreeing to buy the maker of Jimmy Dean sausage and Ball Park hot dogs for $8.5 billion.[10] On July 28, 2014, the company said it would sell its Mexican and Brazilian poultry businesses to JBS S.A. for $575 million and use the proceeds to pay down debt from its pending $7.7 billion purchase of Hillshire Brands Co.[11] In May 2018, Tyson announced the acquisition of American Proteins, Inc. and AMPRO Products, Inc. for approximately $850 million.[12]

In early 2018, Tyson, through its venture capital arm Tyson Ventures,[13] invested in Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats, and Future Meat Technologies,[14] companies developing plant-based meat substitutes and cultured clean meat, respectively. Former CEO Tom Hayes said that "it might seem counterintuitive", but the investments are part of an effort to meet future consumer demand in a sustainable way.[15][16][17]

On June 1, 2018, Tyson announced that it would sell the Sara Lee, Van's, Chef Pierre and Bistro Collection brands to Kohlberg & Company.[18] The sale was completed on August 1, forming Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, which will be based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.[19]

On August 9, 2018, Tyson announced that it would sell its pizza crust business, including TNT Crust, to Austin-based Peak Rock Capital, who completed the acquisition on September 4.[20][21]

On August 20, 2018, Tyson announced its intent to acquire food supplier Keystone Foods from Marfrig.[22] Tyson announced it had completed the acquisition on November 30, 2018.[23]

On February 7, 2019, Tyson Foods reached an agreement to acquire the European and Thai businesses of Brazilian food company BRF.[24] The acquisition was completed on June 3, 2019.[25]

On January 10, 2020, Tyson Foods announced that it sold its Golden Island jerky business to Jack Link's.[26]

Tyson Renewable Energy

Tyson's processing plants generate a vast supply of animal fats. In late 2006, the company created a business unit called Tyson Renewable Energy to examine ways of commercializing the use of this leftover material by converting it into biofuels.[27] The unit is also examining the potential use of poultry litter to generate energy and other products.[28] On April 16, 2007, Tyson announced a joint venture with ConocoPhillips to produce roughly 175 million gallons of biodiesel a year—enough to run Tyson Foods' truck fleet for 3.5 years.[29]

Corporate charity

Since 2000, Tyson Foods has donated millions of dollars in cash to help non-profit organizations across the country. Forbes named Tyson Foods the second most proportionally generous company for its donations in 2007 totaling 1.6 percent ($8 million) of its annual operating income.[30] Tyson initiated the KNOW Hunger campaign in early 2011 to raise awareness of hunger in the United States. After the Joplin tornado of 2011, Tyson sent 77,000 pounds of food to the city.[31] It also sent 100,000 pounds of food to the communities along the Gulf of Mexico after the April 20, 2010, oil spill.[32] Tyson has supported "Little Free Pantries,"[33] and has partnered with the Chicago Urban League for educational programs on misconceptions about SNAP (food stamp) benefits.[34]

Religious activities

In addition to placing 128 part-time chaplains (including both Protestant and Catholic Christians and Muslim Imams) in 78 Tyson plants,[35] in 2006 the company invited their customers to download a prayer book, containing prayers from many faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and American Indian spirituality, from the company's website to read during mealtime.[36][37]

Corporate governance

Board of Directors


John W. Tyson, the founder, was CEO from 1935 until his death in 1967.

Don Tyson served as the company's CEO and chairman from 1967 to 1991.

Leland Tollett was CEO from 1991 until 1998.[39]

John H. Tyson served as CEO from 1999 to 2006.[40]

Richard L. Bond was CEO of the company from 2006 until January 7, 2009, when he stepped down and his position was filled by temporary replacement Leland Tollett. Donnie Smith served as CEO from November 2009 to 2016. In November 2016, the company announced Smith would step down at the end of the year and would be succeeded by company president Tom Hayes.[41]

Hayes was replaced by Noel White in September 2018.[42]


World headquarters of Tyson Foods at 2200 Don Tyson Pkwy, Springdale, Arkansas

Environmental record

Tyson has been involved in several lawsuits related to air and water pollution. In June 2003, the company admitted to illegally dumping untreated wastewater from its poultry processing plant near Sedalia, Missouri, pleading guilty to 20 felony violations of the federal Clean Water Act. As part of the plea agreement, the company agreed to pay $7.5 million in fines, hire an outside consultant to perform an environmental audit, and institute an "enhanced environmental management system" at the Sedalia plant.[43] At the same time, Tyson also settled a case filed by the Missouri attorney general's office related to the same illegal dumping.[citation needed]

The United States Environmental Protection Agency began the investigation into the discharges in 1997, and federal officials served two criminal search warrants at the plant in 1999. According to EPA and U.S. Department of Justice officials, Tyson continued to illegally dump wastewater after the search warrants were executed, prompting an EPA senior trial attorney to remark that: "Having done this work for nearly 20 years, I don't recall any case where violations continued after the execution of two search warrants. That's stunning." Under the federal and state plea agreements, Tyson agreed to pay $5.5 million to the federal government, $1 million to the Pettis County School Fund and $1 million to the Missouri Natural Resources Protection Fund to help remedy the damage.[44]

In 2002, three residents of Western Kentucky, together with the Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit concerning the discharge of dangerous quantities of ammonia from Tyson's Western Kentucky factories. Tyson settled the suit in January 2005, agreeing to spend $500,000 to mitigate and monitor the ammonia levels.[45]

In 2004, Tyson was one of six poultry companies to pay a $7.3 million settlement fee to the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to settle charges that the use of chicken waste as fertilizer had created phosphorus pollution in Tulsa's main drinking water sources.[46]

Employment of undocumented immigrants

In 2001, Tyson was charged with conspiracy to smuggle and hire undocumented workers to work on its production lines. Tyson plant managers arranged for delivery of undocumented workers with undercover immigration officials. Prosecutors alleged that the conspiracy to import workers dates back to 1994 when plant managers began to find it difficult to fill positions with "cheap legal help". Of the six managers who were indicted, two accepted plea bargain deals, and one committed suicide one month after being charged. In March 2003, a federal jury acquitted Tyson of having knowingly hired illegal immigrants.[47][48]

In May 2006, Tyson suspended operations at nine plants during a nationwide day of immigration demonstrations citing expected lack of workers.[49]

In October 2006, a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by Tyson employees who allege that Tyson's practice of hiring illegal immigrants depresses wages 10–30%. The suit further contends that the company violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring with National Council of La Raza and League of United Latin American Countries not to question the employment applications of anyone with a Hispanic surname.[50][51][52]

Price manipulation

In 2004, a federal jury found that Tyson Fresh Meats had used captive supply agreements to artificially lower fed cattle prices in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Damages were found to be $1.28 billion. A U.S. Court of Appeals voided the verdict because it determined Tyson had a legitimate business justification to artificially lower cattle prices.[53]

In 2016, Maplevale sued Tyson and others for alleged price fixing. In January 2018 Winn-Dixie Stores and its sister grocery, Bi-Lo Holdings, also sued Tyson and others; weeks later, Sysco and US Foods separately sued Tyson and others. Tyson and 16 other companies were accused of working together to restrict the supply of chickens and to manipulate chicken prices; these activities allegedly started in 2008.[54][55] Expressing the magnitude of the Mapleville allegations, NBC News stated an American family of four spends an average of $1100 per year on chicken, and if industry-wide price fixing allegations are true, "about $330 of that should still be in your wallet each year".[56]

Undisclosed use of antibiotics

In 2007, Tyson began labeling and advertising its chicken products as "Raised without Antibiotics." After being advised by the USDA that Tyson's use of protozoa-killing ionophores in unhatched eggs constituted antibiotic use, Tyson and the USDA compromised on rewording Tyson's slogan as "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans." Tyson competitors Perdue Farms and Sanderson Farms sued claiming that Tyson's claim violated truth-in-advertising/labeling standards. In May 2008, a federal judge ordered Tyson to stop using the label.[citation needed] Ionophores are used to control cocidiosis, a parasite common in all birds and the medication is not used in human medicine.

In June 2008, USDA inspectors discovered that Tyson had also been using gentamicin, an antibiotic, in eggs. According to USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond, Tyson hid the use of this antibiotic from federal inspectors, with Tyson not denying the claim and stating that the use of this chemical is standard industry practice. Tyson agreed to voluntarily remove its "raised without antibiotics" label in future packaging and advertising.[57]

As of March 31, 2019, their website states that "All chickens raised for the Tyson® retail brand are grown without using any antibiotics – ever."[58]

Employee abuse

An Oxfam report issued in 2016 cited anonymous employees who stated they have been denied bathroom breaks so frequently that they have started wearing adult diapers to work. According to the report:[59]

Workers struggle to cope with this denial of a basic human need. They urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security.

According to Celeste Monforton, professor of occupational health at George Washington University, on average, more than one Tyson Foods employee is injured and amputates a finger or limb per month.[60][61]

Animal abuse

From December 2004 through February 2005, an undercover investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claimed to have worked on the slaughter line of a Tyson Foods chicken processing plant in Heflin, Alabama. Using a hidden camera, he allegedly documented the treatment of the more than 100,000 chickens killed every day in the plant. PETA alleges that workers were instructed to rip the heads off of birds who missed the throat-cutting machines. He claims he saw birds scalded alive in the feather removal tank, and he said that managers said it was acceptable to scald 40 birds alive per shift. The investigator claims plant employees were also seen throwing around dead birds just for fun. PETA has asked Tyson to implement controlled atmosphere killing (CAK). For this reason, PETA is boycotting businesses that use Tyson as a supplier, such as KFC and distribution channels such as Sunset Strips. The video, taken by the investigator of the killings, was posted on YouTube.[62]

In 2006, Tyson completed a study to determine whether CAK, which uses gas to render chickens unconscious before slaughter, could be a more humane practice than conventional electrical stunning. According to Bill Lovette, Tyson's senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods, the study found no difference between the humaneness of the two methods. The company plans to ask scientists at the University of Arkansas to initiate a similar study to test these initial results. The research will be led by the newly created Chair in Food Animal Wellbeing at the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences of the University of Arkansas. Tyson has committed $1.5 million to help establish the Chair, which will be involved in overseeing research and classes focused on the humane management and treatment of food animals.[63]

A 2016 undercover investigation by the animal rights organization Compassion Over Killing showed workers at four separate Tyson processing plants throwing, punching and kicking chickens as well as sticking plastic rods through their beaks. They also wrung birds' necks, ran over them with forklifts and left injured birds in heaping piles to die.[64]

Food recalls

On January 30, 2019, Tyson Foods announced a recall for over 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets that were at risk of being contaminated with small pieces of rubber. The recall followed allegations by consumers who submitted complaints to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Tyson identified the contaminated nuggets as those received by Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Utah club store distribution centers.[65] On March 21, 2019, the company issued a recall for 69,000 pounds of chicken strips potentially contaminated with pieces of metal,[66] following six complaints submitted to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, including three alleged oral injuries. An expanded recall for nearly 12 million pounds of chicken strips was issued on May 4, 2019.[67]

On June 7, 2019, Tyson Foods announced a recall for over 190,000 pounds of chicken fritters which potentially contained hard plastic, calling the action "voluntary" and "out of caution" following reports from three consumers. The products were not sold in retail stores but supplied to various food service locations, including schools.[68]

Position on cuts to federal food assistance

Tyson Foods has made political donations to both major parties.[33]

Tyson "pledged to invest $50 million by 2020 in various efforts to fight food insecurity" in 2015. The company exceeded that goal, with contributions of over $60 million to start the year 2020.[69] However, it has also "pledged hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions to the Republican Party, whose leaders aim to gut federal spending on food aid." It is not clear that Tyson's philanthropic efforts could be sufficient to compensate for "between 500,000 and 1 million people" removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2017.[33]

Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

In April, 2020, a Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa closed down after 148 workers tested positive for coronavirus, and two workers died.[70] Officials including the sheriff in Black Hawk County, Iowa were critical of Tyson Foods on April 17, after an outbreak began at a company plant in Waterloo, Iowa.[71][72] Tyson finally closed the Waterloo plant on April 22. About 180 workers had tested positive for coronavirus out of a workforce of 2,800. According to an Associated Press report, the company said the shutdown "would deny a vital market to hog farmers and further disrupt the nation's meat supply".[73] On April 20, it was reported that 90 workers had tested positive at a Tyson beef and pork packing plant in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. The plant employs 1,600 workers.[74] On April 17, Tyson announced that four poultry workers died who were associated with a Tyson chicken processing plant in Camilla, Georgia. Three worked inside the plant and another worked outside. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 2,000 workers at the plant, said that the three plant workers who died were women who had worked for Tyson for 13 to 35 years, and that many plant workers are "sick or in quarantine."[75] Steve Stouffer, president of the fresh meats division at Tyson Foods, expressed some resistance to universal testing of their workers. "Everybody wants to test meatpacking employees, but nobody is testing the communities around them to show what’s the baseline," Stouffer said, adding "And until we know the baselines, my question has always been: Are we the cause or are we just the victim of our surroundings?"[76] At least eight workers at a Tyson plant in Madison, Nebraska had tested positive for coronavirus by April 20, according to local public health officials.[77] Workers have also tested positive at other Tyson plants in Lexington, Nebraska and Dakota City, Nebraska.[77] On April 21, Tyson announced the closure of a plant in Center, Texas, which is located in Shelby County, Texas, a rural county with a rate of coronavirus infections about four times higher than the state average. A local physician reported that over half of the county's cases were associated with the Tyson facility.[78] On April 22, Tyson announced the closure of a pork processing plant in Logansport, Indiana that employed more than 2,200 workers after 146 workers tested positive. The president of the Indiana Farm Bureau said that the organization is "extremely concerned about the closure of the Tyson pork processing facility. This is a devastating blow to the pork producers who sell hogs to Tyson."[79] By May 1, the count of workers who have tested positive for coronavirus at the Logansport plant stood at 890.[80] On April 23, Tyson announced that a beef processing plant in Wallula, Washington was closing. The plant employed 1,400 workers. Local public health officials announced that over 90 workers had tested positive for coronavirus, and one had died. Tyson executive Steve Stouffer said, "Unfortunately, the closure will mean reduced food supplies and presents problems to farmers who have no place to take their livestock. It’s a complicated situation across the supply chain.[81] On April 27, public health officials in Dakota County, Nebraska, which has a population of about 20,000 people, announced that 608 residents had tested positive for coronavirus, a rate about 40 times higher than the Omaha area. The county's biggest employer by far is the Tyson beef packing plant in Dakota City, Nebraska, which employs about 4,300 people. One worker at that plant has died of Covid-19, and local officials believe that the outbreak is centered in the Tyson plant.[82] Eight workers at a Tyson chicken processing plant in Portland, Maine have tested positive for coronavirus, and on April 28, state health officials called for all 400 workers to be tested for the virus. Tyson agreed, and said that it is considering closing the plant.[83] On May 5, local health officials announced that 730 out of 1,250 workers at Tyson's plant in Perry, Iowa had tested positive for coronavirus. The local newspaper called the 58% positive infection rate "jaw-dropping".[84]

On April 26, John Tyson, chairman of the board, wrote in the New York Times that "The food supply chain is breaking...There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed."[85]

See also


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Coordinates: 36°09′13.70″N 94°09′15.49″W / 36.1538056°N 94.1543028°W / 36.1538056; -94.1543028

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