- Tyson Foods Inc. will eliminate antibiotics from its flagship poultry products, a move the U.S. meat giant hopes will launch the company to the top of the fast-growing antibiotic-free market, according to The Wall Street Journal. Tyson will replace antibiotics with probiotics to keep its chickens healthy.
- Poultry products made with antibiotic-free birds are generally more expensive to make, but can be sold for 20% more than traditional ones. The company expects its Tyson-branded fresh and frozen chicken products to be antibiotic free by June of this year.
- This decision is part of a larger campaign to refocus Tyson's business on branded protein products sold in grocery stores, rather than supplying bulk meat to retailers and restaurants.
Consumers have railed against meat raised with antibiotics for years, and Tyson has listened. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also pressured meat producers to reduce or eliminate their use of antibiotics for weight-gain purposes, but meat processors have felt greater fire from consumer rejection of products that could make the medicines they rely on less effective.
Tyson's decision to cut these drugs follows in the footsteps of several of its competitors, such as Perdue Farms and Pilgrim's Pride, which have invested in organic, antibiotic-free chicken production to cater to consumer health trends. Still, this transition will make Tyson the world's biggest supplier of antibiotic-free poultry.
This isn't the first time that Tyson has led innovation in the meat space. In October, Tyson acquired a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, making it the first major meat company to invest in a plant-based protein company. This business decision demonstrated two things: the company's awareness of both the threat and profitability of alternative proteins, and Tyson's ability to anticipate and capitalize on disruptive consumer trends.
Tyson has proved its food industry savvy time and again, with partnerships with Amazon and Alibaba and a new line of meal kits bolstering its product portfolios. This latest change has further cemented this dominance in the U.S. meat space, and could also help the company capture a greater number of health-conscious consumers.