The U.S. chicken industry will see plenty of growth over the next few years, Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson Jr. told investors May 21 during the BMO Capital Markets 2014 Farm to Market Conference. That industry growth will come from both the addition of new poultry plants and expanded production at existing plants, he said.

“I feel sure there will be some expansion coming,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson Farms is helping lead the industry expansion, as it continues to build a new big bird deboning complex in Palestine, Texas. The new complex will consist of a feed mill, hatchery, poultry processing plant and wastewater facility. At full capacity, the Palestine facility will process 1.25 million head of chickens per week. While construction had been slowed because of inclement weather, Sanderson said things are back on schedule. The plant should open during the first quarter of the 2015 fiscal year.

Sanderson also pointed out that other poultry companies are planning the construction of new plants. Peco Foods in March announced that it would open a fully-integrated poultry complex that includes a hatchery, feed mill and processing plant in Arkansas’ Randolph and Clay counties. Also, Allen Harim Foods is actively working to gain approval to open a new poultry complex at a former Vlassic pickle plant in Millsboro, Delaware.

Advertisement

But Sanderson said the U.S. poultry industry could also see increased processing within existing plants.

“I’m certain that there are going to be a lot of people that would like to speed up their lines, or add a line in the next couple of years,” he said. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about people building chicken houses.” Sanderson added that the talk of new chicken houses was “anecdotal” and he did not have specific information. However, he believes new houses will be built because the industry is currently profitable.

“It’s a good time to be in the chicken business,” he said.