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The U.S. chicken industry cranked up production in 2010 with 22 companies in WATT PoultryUSA’s 2011 rankings reporting increases in ready-to-cook chicken production. Increases in production among companies surveyed ranged from 1.3% to 36.9%, with the median rise in RTC production being 6.2%.
Top 10 post gains, declines
Of the top 10 chicken producers, eight posted increases in RTC chicken production on an average weekly basis in 2010, with No. 1 ranked Tyson Foods leading the pack with an increase of 10.1%.
Top 10 companies registering declines in production in 2010 are No. 2 ranked Pilgrim’s Pride, which cut production by 6.5%, and No. 3 ranked Perdue Farms, which lowered production by 0.7%.
Other chicken producers in the top 10 reported significant increases: fourth-ranked Sanderson Farms up 5.8%, fifth-ranked Koch Foods up 6.7%, sixth-ranked Wayne Farms up 6.2%, seventh-ranked Mountaire Farms up 6.3%, eighth-ranked House of Raeford Farms up 7.3%, ninth-ranked Foster Farms up 5.1% and tenth-ranked Peco Foods up 6.1%.
Other production gainers
Other producers with notable gains in average weekly RTC production include No. 12 ranked Simmons Foods +13.6%, No. 15 ranked George’s +11.4%, No. 16 ranked Case Foods +5.9%, No. 18 ranked Amick Farms +36.9% and No. 20 ranked Marshall Durbin Companies +5.0%.
Producers grew RTC volume in 2010 both through increases in the numbers of chickens slaughtered and their live weights.
Seven firms cut production
Of the 42 chicken producers surveyed, only seven posted declines in weekly RTC production in 2010.
Plant sale figures in volume swing
Amick Farms, which posted the largest RTC increase among the firms surveyed, acquired a plant in Hurlock, Md., from No. 19 ranked Allen Family Foods. This transaction is largely responsible for Amick’s 36.9% rise in production and for Allen’s 11% production decline.
Capital improvements completed or planned by chicken companies include the following:
- Pilgrim’s Pride plans to re-open its plant in Douglas, Ga., in 2010 and expects to expand the existing processing facility.
- Peco Foods added capacity (10,000 pounds per hour) in its Canton (2) cooking line in 2010. The company plans to complete a new feed mill at Lake, Miss., in the first quarter of 2012.
- Marshall Durbin reported numerous facility and infrastructure upgrades in 2010. It plans to continue improvements to facilities and equipment in 2011, including a $4 million expansion of deboning and marination operations.
- Cagle’s converted its Pine Mountain Valley plant from a small-bird, fast-food operation to a deboning operation in 2010.
- Mar-Jac Poultry added a new ice room at a cost of $550,000 in 2010. The company plans to remodel the cut-up department and install new baggers at a cost of $1.4 million.
- Gold’n Plump expanded the Arcaia, Wis., complex with the addition to the first-processing floor of 24,000 square feet and built four breeder and two broiler barns. Capital improvements at the Cold Spring, Minn., complex included expansion of the waste water treatment facility. An 8,600-square-feet expansion to the chiller operation in Cold Spring, Minn., is planned at a cost of $2 million.
- Gerber’s Poultry completed construction of a live-holding building and a waste-collection system at the hatchery in 2010. The company also remodeled the retail store, updated processing equipment, and updated its computer infrastructure. In 2011, the company plans upgrades to processing equipment valued at $300,000.