Local Industry & Knowledge Sectors
Tyson Foods, Inc.
In the 1930s, John W. Tyson moved his family to Northwest Arkansas in the midst of the great depression in search of better opportunities. He got into the poultry business delivering chickens to larger markets in the Midwest. At the time, poultry consumption was four times lower than that of beef or pork. Chickens were largely kept for their eggs.
In the spring of 1942, the U.S. government instituted the national Food Rationing Program in order to better support the war effort. During the war, most of the red meat ended up being used by the military. Poultry was an unrationed item and butchers began to keep more in stock. The demand soon began to rise rapidly, and John Tyson responded by beginning to raise chicks along with grinding feed for other chicken farmers.
After the war, the business continued to boom as the company began to vertically integrate, which drastically reduced costs. This led to increased profitability, allowing the company to grow enough to be taken public in 1962 as Tyson Foods, Inc. After the tragic deaths of John and his wife Helen in a train accident their son Don took over as CEO in 1967. Through continued innovation, and Don instilling a core tenant to always take care of the employees, the company experienced incredible growth over the next four decades.
Today’s Tyson Foods is a modern, multi-national, protein-focused food company with more than 122,000 employees. They produce 1 in 5 pounds of all chicken, beef, and pork in the U.S., making them the market leaders. They are behind some of the most recognized brands on grocery store shelves today. The portfolio of leading brands includes Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Ball Park®, Wright Brand®, Golden Island®, Aidells®, and State Fair®.
Tyson Foods is also the leading protein provider to many national restaurant chains, including quick service, casual, mid-scale, and fine dining restaurants. They make food for a variety of foodservice customers, including schools, military bases, hospitals, nursing homes, and international customers as well. They are also the only company that sells chicken, beef, pork, and prepared foods products through all major retail distribution channels, including club stores, grocery stores, and discount stores. In 2020 Tyson had notched $43.2 billion in revenue.
At their headquarters in the neighboring city of Springdale is the Tyson Discovery Center. This is where more than 170 research and development members bring new products to life in 19 state-of-the-art test kitchens, a 39,000-square-foot pilot plant, a sensory lab and focus group space, and a packaging innovation lab.