Tyson Foods is set to become one of the nation’s leading producers of organic branded chicken through its acquisition of Tecumseh Poultry LLC.

The transaction, which closed on June 3, includes the air-chilled Smart Chicken brand. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. 

Tecumseh Poultry, also known as MBA Poultry, was founded in 1998 and produces air-chilled, fresh chicken, as well as deli-style chicken and a variety of chicken sausages. The air-chilling process involves using cold air to cool chicken during processing, while the most common method used by the U.S. chicken industry is water-chilling. Both methods are monitored by USDA inspectors and are considered safe.

“Consumers want choices. More and more consumers want options for fresh, organic food that fits their lifestyles,” said Eric Schwartz, chief marketing officer of poultry for Tyson  Foods. “The Smart Chicken brand is a  leader in this key organic category, and the category’s growth makes this acquisition a strategic fit for Tyson Foods.” 

Tecumseh Poultry, according to the WATTAgNet Top Companies Database, is the 26th largest broiler company in the United States, having processed 2.6 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis in 2017. The same database ranks Tyson Foods as the country’s top broiler company, having processed 174.8 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis in 2017.

According to Nielsen’s Perishables data, organic fresh chicken grew sales volume by 8.6 percent from 2016 to 2017, more than four times the rate of conventional poultry. Tecumseh Poultry’s processing capabilities and its focus on quality have given the Smart Chicken brand a leading position in the fastest-growing U.S. category of fresh chicken. 

Tecumseh Poultry’s operations include two plants located in Tecumseh and Waverly, Nebraska, as well as live operations. Tyson Foods currently plans to operate Tecumseh Poultry as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary and expects to retain its approximately 600 team members, including operations staff, sales teams and management.  

“We’ve spent 18 years working to perfect our ability to produce the highest-quality, fresh chicken in the U.S. We’re very proud of that, and it’s not going to change,” said Kevin Siebert,  president of Tecumseh. “Tyson Foods brings to the Smart Chicken  brand and the rest of our product lines the resources to make us even stronger.”