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INTERNATIONAL AG NEWS

Inside China's supersanitary chicken farms

Looking to capitalize on food-safety concerns, Tyson shifts from using independent breeders

12/11/2013 at 8:45 a.m.


From The Wall Street Journal

HAIMEN, China — Nestled among tiny farms in this rural outpost outside Shanghai is a huge, supersanitary chicken farm — a bold bet by Tyson Foods Inc. that it can thrive in China by overhauling a decades-old business model.

Instead of buying chickens from independent farmers, as Tyson long has done world-wide, the company is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build its own farms in China. The effort is aimed at making inroads in a crucial growth market by addressing one of the country's most vexing problems: food safety.

On a recent afternoon, 330,000 chickens graze in 16 ventilated buildings, each about the area of two Olympic swimming pools. Video cameras monitor the interiors, where the faint sound of chirps mix with the whir of big fans. Workers don sterilized uniforms and shoes. Every delivery truck entering the grounds is sprayed three times with disinfectant.

Tyson aims by 2015 to run 90 such farms in China and supply its processing plants here almost exclusively with company-raised broilers, as chickens raised for meat are called. Today the Springdale, Ark., company has 20 farms in China. Three years ago, none. The goal is to double production in China to three million birds a week for supermarkets and restaurants to help offset sluggish growth in the U.S.

"We just can't build the [chicken] houses fast enough, and we're going absolutely as fast as we know how to go," says Tyson Chief Executive Donnie Smith.

Read the rest of the story here.

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