Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, will share insights on how the third largest poultry company in the United States has flourished amid challenges to the industry as he delivers the keynote address at the 2018 Chicken Marketing Summit, scheduled for July 21-23 in Orlando, Florida.

His speech, “The battle for the moveable middle in today’s poultry landscape,” will fit in with the theme of the summit, which is “Survive and thrive in disruptive times.”

“With the business we’re in, there’s so much we can’t control: the weather, the price of chicken, the price of grain, events, cycles, etc. We can’t control very much of that. I touch on what we can control, which is operations,” he said.

How Sanderson Farms has grown

Since the 1990s, Sanderson Farms has grown differently than other companies in the broiler industry. Sanderson Farms has recently completed construction of new complexes in Palestine, Texas, and St. Pauls, North Carolina, and is close to opening a new facility in Tyler, Texas.

While other companies have grown by acquiring existing complexes, Sanderson Farms and Peco Foods have been the only ones that have built new ones.

“Over the next three or four years, that’s going to change, because six other companies besides us have announced expansions of new capital projects,” Butts said, adding that he will touch on that change in his speech, as well as how the market will need to absorb that new production.

Continued judicious use of antibiotics

While many other companies in the broiler industry have been using labels, specifically raised without antibiotics (RWA), Sanderson Farms has not followed that trend.

Butts is not critical of other businesses that use antibiotics or the consumers who purchase RWA products. In fact, he said he has respect and admiration for them. “This is different companies making their own marketing decisions.”

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“We continue judicious use of antibiotics, and I tell them why and the reasoning behind it,” Butts said.

He said there are four areas in which Sanderson Farms developed its position on judiciously used antibiotics:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Food safety
  3. Sustainability
  4. Consumer preference

What the consumers say

Sanderson Farms has conducted its own research on consumer views, and he will share some of the results of that research, as well as the results of research from academic professionals. Butts said other peoples’ research is pretty similar to Sanderson Farms.

That research, he said, shows that customers are mainly looking at price, quality and freshness, and “not all of these labels.”

Sanderson Farms has run a series of television advertisements that are humorous, yet intended to be transparent and informative about how Sanderson Farms does business. He said that the company has a way of tracking consumer reactions from those commercials, and they are 80 percent favorable. The company has also heard positive feedback from consumers via brand tracker, emails and interactions with people on a day-to-day basis.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, you’re the guys that tell the truth.’ That is a cool thing to me. They hear all these things about hormones and antibiotics and cage-free, and they say, ‘oh, they’re telling the truth.’ It’s hard to buy that.

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