Tyson Foods Inc. announced in June 2007 that it would produce all of its retail Tyson brand chicken from birds raised without antibiotics.
Even then, the company realized the consumer demand for poultry produced and labeled “raised without antibiotics.”
“According to our research, 91 percent of consumers agree it’s important to have fresh chicken produced and labeled ‘raised without antibiotics,’” Richard L. Bond, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, said in 2007.
The company said birds raised without antibiotics would cost more to produce, but Tyson’s market research showed that consumers are willing to pay a premium in excess of this additional cost, the company said. Tyson expects its premium for the antibiotic-free products to be less than the premiums charged by most competing niche brands.
And the raised-without-antibiotics trend continues. This year, at the 2016 International Production and Processing Expo, Mike Donohue, vice president of Agri Stats Inc., said data collected by the agricultural research company indicated 46.1 percent of chickens Agri Stats monitors were not fed antibiotics traditionally used for growth promotion within the past month.
Donohue said the reduction in the use of antibiotics in the U.S. may be correlated with a reversal in the productivity gains the poultry industry has enjoyed consistently for decades. Consumer concern over the use of antimicrobials in livestock production and the forthcoming U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Feed Directive, which will ban the use of growth promoting antibiotics the FDA deems medically important to humans in the U.S., were hot topics at IPPE.
Second largest broiler company takes the plunge into 'antibiotic-free' production with its flagship brand.