Protein Farmers Changing the Landscape of our Food System

Poultry farmers in the United States face an ever-evolving host of issues today: the use of antibiotics, animal welfare concerns, sustainability, proper waste management—and all while trying to make a profit.

Chicken has a relatively small carbon footprint when compared to other meats, and the concept is not showing any signs of slowing in terms of customer popularity. According to Foodable Labs, chicken has seen consumer demand for chicken inclusion on menus rise by 19.8 percent, and chefs have added chicken to menus by a rate of 23.9 percent.

Protein Consumer Sentiment Ranking

Chicken is second only to plant-based meat—an exploding industry—in terms of consumer sentiment. But consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of the food that they are eating, and the methods in which food is grown or raised. For all of the benefits of chicken, those benefits can be lost or lessened if the chicken is mishandled or mistreated.

Tyson Foods is working to make poultry farming efficient and affordable while still adhering to best animal well-being practices and its high standards for food quality. The corporation currently contracts over 4,000 independent poultry farmers, and pays over $800 million each year for their services. Jacque, a current poultry farmer in contract with Tyson, has loved her and her husband’s years of working with Tyson.

“Some of the best blessings we have is from farming,” says Jacque. “We think Tyson represents quality, it represents hard work. It represents animal welfare and everyone working together to advocate for a healthy happy animal.”

“There’s nothing factory farm about our farm,” adds Jacque. “This is a family farm. It’s how we make a living, and it’s how we teach important values to our children. There’s nothing factory about it.”

On average, contracted Tyson Foods poultry farmers have worked with the corporation for over fifteen years. Contracts are generally negotiated to last at least three to seven years.

Contract farming at Tyson Foods gives farmers peace of mind: their compensation is not at the behest of the rise and fall of corn, soybean, and other chicken feeding ingredients. Tyson exclusively provides all of the feed farmers need. Poultry farmer compensation is instead determined based on how the chickens are cared for and overall bird weight gain.

Most major poultry processing companies use a similar performance-based pay program. And according to a 2014 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, contract poultry farmers have a higher median income when compared to other farm households.

Poultry farmer contracts are highly regulated at the federal level to ensure farmers’ rights are protected. All contracted poultry farmers have the right to:

  • end a contract with 90 days notice

  • a 90 day notice of contract termination from the processor

  • join an association of farmers

  • seek the advice and counsel of outside parties regarding their contract.

Tyson Foods also offers a program for struggling farmers to help improve their performance and avoid the need for contract termination.

Poultry farmers contracted by Tyson Foods must also—pre-contract—fulfill a list of modern housing specifications to ensure proper ventilation and a comfortable bird living environment. Maintenance concerns and necessary repairs must also be completed in a timely manner. Any technical or animal management problems are handled by Tyson Foods service technicians and animal welfare specialists.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To see more content like this, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Nespresso Taking the Lead in Coffee Sustainability Best Practices

Consumers today want more from their coffee: they want a meaningful experience. Specialty foods are up by 310 percent in terms of menu inclusion. For restaurants and hospitality operators, coffee offers a unique way for operators to differentiate themselves in a crowded market and make a better connection with clients.

On this episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron sits down with Kika Buhrmann, the vice president of B2B USA at Nespresso, a specialty coffee provider. The company’s state-of-the-art machines use coffee capsules to brew a number of coffee and espresso flavors.

“On average, customers today consume four different types of coffee each week,” says Buhrmann. “Millennials are more open to differentiation in coffee. The artistry behind coffee is becoming more and more appreciated and recognized.”

Nespresso encourages businesses and customers alike to recognize the surprising similarities in the production process that exist between wine and coffee. The company is passionate about promoting awareness of the intensive process behind coffee production, and encourages its customers to see the importance of cup selection, maintaining sustainable practices, and using renewable materials throughout the production process — right up to the point of drinking the coffee itself.

“The sustainability program sits at the core of our company,” Buhrmann explains. “Aluminum is the most sustainable material out there today, so all Nespresso capsules are made of aluminum to preserve the quality and freshness of the coffee. For any decision that we make, we look at the impact on our value chain: instead of focusing on what is the easiest thing to do, we like to focus on what is the right thing to do.”

First established in 1986, Nespresso currently works with over 100,000 coffee farmers in 13 countries. The company is highly invested in the future of both the farmers’ families and the larger communities surrounding those farmers — Nespresso wants to ensure that coffee farming remains sustainable on both the local and global level.

Listen to The Barron Report episode above to learn more about the brand-new technology coming to Nespresso machines, and how the company continues to find and develop rich new flavors. And if you would like to keep listening, check out The Barron Report podcast on iTunes Now!

Produced by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


Kuli Kuli Brings Nutrient-Dense Superfood to the US Market

Moringa is known by many names throughout the world: drumstick tree, mother’s milk, the tree of life. But the plant is relatively unknown in the United States, and its extensive nutritional and medicinal benefits are only beginning to be studied.

In this episode of Food Out Loud, host Nathan Mikita chats with Lisa Curtis, the founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Curtis began researching the moringa plant after personally discovering its exceptional nutritional benefits while living in a mud house with no electricity in Niger, West Africa. Before adding moringa to her diet, she almost exclusively ate rice and millet and often felt tired and faint. The name “Kuli Kuli” comes from a traditional African peanut snack called kuli-kuli, with which Curtis began mixing moringa leaves.

With help from an Indiegogo campaign, Curtis officially launched Kuli Kuli five years ago. Kuli Kuli has since partnered with over 1300 women’s cooperatives and small family farms in eleven countries. Together, the company has raised over 4.4 million dollars in revenue and is now sold in more than 7000 stores. Curtis hopes the work will provide continuous financial and nutritional security for those communities and family farms. She quickly found that the best way to ensure farmers ate more of the plant was to have them grow it themselves.

Moringa may be the most nutrient-dense superfood in the world—though, as Curtis notes, that designation depends upon how you are measuring nutrient value. “Most plants are 90% water. Moringa is 80% water,” says Curtis. “It’s a complete plant protein. Very few greens like that have fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and vitamin C. It’s more nutritious than kale.”

According to recent studies, moringa is better than turmeric at reducing inflammation within the body. The plant is also proven to help regulate blood sugar levels, thus providing natural relief for those who suffer from diabetes. Some swear by the plant for soothing arthritis, and new mothers often take it to promote lactation.

Energy bars, shakes, shots, and powder are the main products Kuli Kuli currently offers in such grocery stores as Whole Foods, Safeway, CVS, and Costco. When breaking down the plant, Curtis and the rest of her team endeavor to avoid losing any valuable nutrients. “We’re very careful in the process. We work with farmers to harvest leaves in the morning when the leaves are fresh, and wash, dry, and mill them into a powder within 30 minutes of harvesting.” Vitamin C is the only nutrient lost during the harvesting and delivery process.

Listen to the above episode of Food Out Loud and learn more about the next steps for Kuli Kuli and the medicinal benefits of moringa.

Produced by:

Nathan Mikita