The CEOs of America’s two largest chicken companies offer differing outlooks for foodservice demand for chicken in 2011. One forecast focuses on competing meats and an increase in chicken feature activity and the other focuses on unemployment numbers.

Speaking at the National Chicken Council annual meeting, top executives for Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride were both positive in their outlooks for foodservice demand for chicken. Don Jackson, CEO, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, however, provided the more robust forecast for 2011. He predicted a 3% year-over-year rise in foodservice demand for chicken.

“I think we will see year-over-year growth in foodservice demand for chicken in 2011 ranging at the bottom from 1% and for the better companies on the order of 5% and perhaps averaging about 3%,” he said.

Jackson foresees high beef prices and increased featuring of chicken by foodservice outlets as driving the increase in demand for chicken.

Donnie Smith’s foodservice outlook  

Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods, forecasted only a 1% increase in same-store, traffic-driven, year-over-year sales of chicken at foodservice. He predicated his outlook on an expectation that the U.S. unemployment rate will continue in the 9.5% to 9.8% range in the immediate future.


Speaking of his forecast for 1% foodservice growth, Smith said, “From where the industry has been over the last two years that is a huge win.”

Listen online  

Hear a podcast of the comments by Jackson and Smith and those of other poultry industry executives in a question-and-answer session which occurred at the National Chicken Council (NCC) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The podcast is accessible online at

Also participating were Mike Roberts, president, food products business, Perdue Farms; Jerry Lane, president, Claxton Poultry; and the panel moderator, Bill Lovette, president and COO, Case Foods.

Video interviews with panelists Don Jackson, Mike Roberts and Bill Lovette can also be viewed online at