Fortune magazine has named Tyson Foods as one of "America's Most Admired Companies." The magazine compiles a list of top companies each year. Tyson Foods was one of six companies to make the Fortune most admired list in the food production category and the only meat company among them.
"To receive this type of recognition is very humbling," said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. "It serves as a reminder to the hard working Tyson team members that they're doing important work each day - helping to bring families together around their tables with safe, affordable, quality foods.
"The rankings also take into account areas like innovation, financial stability and social responsibility, all of which are fundamental to our business," added Smith. "I'd like to congratulate not only our team members, but also many of our retail and food service customers that were also recognized."
Fortune assesses leading businesses in 57 industry sectors. It partners with the Hay Group which surveys executives, directors and analysts within their respective industries to rank the companies on nine criteria, including financial attributes, corporate social responsibility and product quality, among others. Tyson Foods has perennially been on the contenders list for "most admired" recognition, but 2014 marks the first time since 2007 that it has received the top designation.
Among the survey respondents, Tyson Foods scored its highest ranking for innovation. On the campus of the company's corporate offices in Springdale, Ark., is the Tyson Discovery Center, its hub of food innovation. The Tyson Discovery Center houses the company's research and development team, complete with home and commercial test kitchens, focus group facilities and a 40,000 square foot pilot plant that duplicates processes in the company's production plants.
Among the more recent successes coming out of the company's research labs is Tyson Day Starts breakfast sandwiches and wrapped omelets, a new product line found in the frozen section of grocery stores, which launched earlier this year. The company is also a major supplier of protein products to the school hot lunch program. Through product innovation, it has been able to reduce overall sodium levels in Tyson Foods products served to schoolchildren by 12 percent - and as much as 46 percent in some specific categories, such as pepperoni.
Tyson Foods' financial performance has also been a source of strength. In its most recent quarter, Tyson Foods reported a 47 percent increase in earnings, year-over-year. Total sales were up 4.7 percent. The company's stock continues to trade at the high end of its 52-week range. Tyson Foods' stock closed at $39.45 on February 28, 2014, its highest closing price ever and more than 70 percent higher than on the same date a year ago.
Fortune is the second major financial magazine to recognize Tyson Foods in recent weeks. In its December/January edition, Institutional Investor named Smith and Tyson Chief Financial Officer Dennis Leatherby to its "2014 All-American Executive Team" within the food category.