Demand for poultry in China is not quite what Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, would like it to be, but he remains optimistic about the company’s prospects there.
Speaking to reporters on a May 9 conference call, Smith said the company remains committed to the Chinese poultry market.
“Our intention is certainly to stay in China,” said Smith. “We’re adjusting our strategy a bit to become much more consumer-centric, so think fresh, branded chicken at retail when you hear that.”
“Not much has changed on the demand landscape. Poultry demand is about where it has been for the last couple of years. Typically, you see poultry prices and pork prices in concert, and over the last six months or so, pork prices have risen, but chicken prices really have not.”
The fact that poultry prices are not rising in China leads Smith to believe that the demand for chicken in China remains soft. However, he adds that consumers in China “very much appreciate great, quality food, and that’s what we’re going to provide them.”
To date, Tyson’s business in China has been primarily driven at the foodservice level, and its key strategy change has been to put more emphasis on the retail sector by focusing on the consumers.
“We’ve been working for the last year on in-depth research on what Chinese consumer wants. What it’s telling us we have a good opportunity to offer a branded fresh chicken offering like what we have in the U.S.,” said Smith.
Smith said while the company has focused on chicken with its Chinese business, it will expand into other offerings there in the future.
Tyson Foods in India
While Tyson’s presence in India is smaller than its presence in China, Smith foresees growth there.
Presently, Tyson’s portfolio in India is primarily limited to some fresh chicken items, as well as frozen fully cooked vegetarian and chicken protein items.
“That business, albeit small, is growing, and we intend to continue to grow in India,” Smith said.