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.

Tyson Chicken Chips are Packed with Protein, Flavor, and Possibility

Customers are increasingly asking restaurant operators for the same thing: a creative, tasteful meal that is rich in protein and flexible enough to enjoy regardless of whether it is ordered in a restaurant or at home for delivery.

Tyson Foods has a solution: Tyson chicken chips. Dippable, scoopable, shareable, and loadable, these chips are simply fun. Suitable for salads and appetizers as well as full entrees, Tyson chicken chips have that homey, familiar look that many customers love while still providing them with the nutrition they need.

Tyson chicken chips include ranch and smoky barbecue flavoring options. Recipe possibilities are truly endless, though check out the video above for a few recipes currently popular with customers, including a southwest-style entree, a buffalo-inspired appetizer, and a delicious caesar salad option. The chips can be as healthy or indulgent as you prefer.

Regardless of your selected recipe, Tyson chicken chips are easy to prepare. They are heated from frozen by either deep frying or baking the chips in an oven until they appear a crispy golden brown. The process typically takes no longer than five minutes, making the chicken chips a quick, flexible option for both your customers and your employees.

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

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

VIEW BIO

Underutilized Fish Species: Collaboration and Education Create Balance

Today, consumers across the globe are relying on seafood as a primary source of protein. This has sparked an educational movement to limit overfishing in an effort to promote seafood sustainability. The idea is to use less of an overused species like Salmon, and substitute it with a less familiar and potentially more abundant species, like Pollock.

On this Foodable.io talk, brought to you by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, our Host Daniela Klimsova, and panelists Warner Lew, Taho Kakutani, Taichi Kitamura - explore how we define an underutilized species. They also discuss the need to not only market to chefs and restaurants but to the consumer, who has a significant role to play in a more sustainable future.

Taho Kakutani, a fishmonger at Pike Place Fish Market, leads by saying discussions about sustainability started to stand out about five years ago, which lead the fish market to prioritize seafood sustainability and advocation of the practice.

“There is a need for story...the seafood industry is particularly compelling,” said Kakutani. “From the sea to the table is this amazing journey that’s happening. So when we have these touch points like sustainability...there’s this opportunity to create this really interesting story that I think consumers are really looking for.”

Taichi Kitamura, executive chef and co-owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura, agrees that as chefs, they are responsible for educating consumers on underutilized species being included on their menus.

“I have to be very careful about what I say to my customers, and actually what I practice in terms of what to put on the menus,” said Kitamura. “You really have to be on top of this issue...it wasn’t the news then, but now it’s the news.”

Bristol Bay’s Fleet Manager, Warner Lew, got his start in the 1970s as a deckhand for local fisheries. He now is known as a crusader for getting Americans to eat canned, smoked Alaskan herring. With a nod to chef Taichi Kitamura’s herring sushi dish from a chef’s seminar, he speaks about how a species could become underutilized.

“The herring, it’s...underutilized in this country because few people know how to handle it… [or] how to enjoy it. That’s the trick [when] utilizing the fish, is how do you make it enjoyable and easy,” said Lew.

Mainstream seafood is often overfished and over marketed. Experts all agree that to create a significant change in reducing overfishing of certain species, industry leaders such as fishermen and chefs need to collaborate, educate and expose the underutilized species market to the masses.


Are Today's Eaters Ready for Lab-Created Meat?

Both Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, both food-tech companies known for plant-based burgers, have secured millions in funding.

We sat down with Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Burger to discuss the company’s success where we learned why he started the plant-based brand. Listen below.

Although these burgers by companies like Beyond Meat look very much like the rare meat patties (they even bleed,) they aren't a real thing. As Beyond Meat says the burger "looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef." These companies don't pretend to have the beef taste down– at least for now.

That's where "cultured meat" comes in. This is lab-created meat from cell cultures versus being directly from animals.

Even though those looking for eco-friendly proteins, like flexitarians or animal welfare advocates, are likely going to be somewhat enticed by this, not everyone is ready to accept this type of meat.

Cultured Meat

"The concept of cultured meat was only known (unaided) by 13% of the study participants. After receiving basic information about what cultured meat is, participants expressed favorable expectations about the concept. Only 9% rejected the idea of trying cultured meat, while two-thirds hesitated and about quarter indicated to be willing to try it," writes the Journal of Integrative Agriculture about a 2013 study.

Besides getting consumers to get past the idea that the meat was created in a lab, biotech's are struggling to keep the cost down for these burgers. In 2013, there was a live tasting of a lab-grown burger that had the steep cost tag of $330,000.

Then there's the name. What will these burgers be called?

"Cultured meat" sounds like a science experiment. Names like "artificial meat," "alt meat," or "clean meat" are possibilities. But should meat even be in the name at all?

"The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association worries that the term “meat” will confuse consumers since these products will directly compete with traditional farm-raised meat. The industry group prefers what are perhaps less-appetizing terms, like “cultured tissue," writes "The Daily Beast."

Read more about the progress of lab-created meat now.