The company will build a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill near the city of Tonganoxie, in Leavenworth County.
The operation, scheduled to begin construction in mid-2019, will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide. It will employ approximately 1,600 people and contract with north-east Kansas farmers and ranchers to raise chickens.
The poultry plant will be capable of processing 1.25 million birds per week, increasing Tyson Foods’ overall production capacity. The payroll and payments to farmers from the new operation, along with its purchase of grain and utilities, is expected to generate an annual economic benefit to the state of Kansas of $150m.
Rising chicken demand central to expansion
Tyson said this decision came in response to strong consumer demand for chicken.
“More people want fresh food and, as one of the world’s leading protein companies, we’re well-positioned to provide it,” said Tom Hayes, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “We believe this new operation, which will incorporate the latest production technology, will enable us to meet the sustained growth in consumer demand for fresh chicken.”
Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson Foods, explained the choice of location. “We believe eastern Kansas is the right location because of the availability of grain and labour, as well as access to our nationwide customer base that is accessible through the state’s top-notch transportation network. We’re grateful for the tremendous support we’ve received for this project from Governor Brownback, as well as leaders from the City of Tonganoxie, Leavenworth County, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, and a host of other city, county and state officials.”
‘Step in the right direction’
Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback said: “Kansas will be an outstanding home for this Tyson complex. Growing Kansas means we must grow the food and agriculture sector, which accounts for nearly 45% of the state’s economy. The far-reaching impact of this development will be felt by farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and communities throughout eastern Kansas. This is a step in the right direction to further diversify and grow our state’s economy.”
The Tonganoxie plant will be part of the continued expansion of the company’s No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) offer. Earlier this year, Tyson Foods announced it was moving to NAE in its Tyson-branded retail chicken products, making it the world’s largest producer of NAE.
Tyson Foods currently operates facilities in six Kansas communities, employing about 5,700 in the state, with an annual payroll of more than $210m. In its 2016 fiscal year, Tyson Foods paid Kansas cattle suppliers more than $2 billion and hog suppliers more than $1.3m.