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

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Nashville Hot Chicken Made Easy with Tyson Foods

Deliciously authentic spicy foods can be hard to come by at restaurants. Spicy foods are typically more difficult to craft consistently and efficiently.

Nevertheless, hot chicken is trending, and has become a particular menu favorite for consumers and operators alike. According to Foodable Labs, there has been a 39.6% overall increase in hot chicken menu options. And about 61.5% of Instagram food influencers consistently engage with posts relating to hot chicken.

To meet the needs of this growing market, Tyson Foods has created its own hot chicken recipe: a powerful, economical, and highly efficient Nashville-style hot chicken. Cayenne pepper and chili powder are its two key ingredients, and every bite is filled with that authentic smoky taste.

Developed by a chef, the recipe can be used for three different cuts: hot boneless wings, hot breast filets, and hot thigh filets. And the recipe requires only two steps: heat the cooked chicken and Tyson’s signature sauce, and then simply toss the chicken with the sauce! To heat the sauce, run it under hot water or place it in a hot bath.

Tyson has found that the recipe allows operators to prepare dishes more quickly and keep every order consistent. Taste and authenticity are not compromised, and operators can invest that extra time in more pressing prep tasks. And that makes for less food waste on the side of the operator, and a longer-lasting flavor for the consumer.

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

Research by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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Panera Bread Rolls Out Climate-Friendly Dinner Options

Lunch hotspot Panera Bread is adding dinner to the menu this summer. The sandwich chain is currently testing a menu featuring hearty meals available from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Jacksonville, Florida, and intends to test the “dinner-centric” menu in nine additional locations in Lexington, Kentucky beginning next month.

In a news release, Panera Bread also noted the company’s goal to continue to provide customers with healthy options for themselves and their children — including for dinner. “Panera’s craveable new dinner options are helping to meet guests demand to eliminate the trade-off between good for you and ease. Like all Panera menu items, all offerings are 100 percent clean with no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, or colors from artificial sources.”

The meals are still designed to be quick. Sara Burnett, the vice president of wellness and food policy for Panera, emphasized that the company is endeavoring to balance the ideals of fast and healthy for busy individuals and families. “People are often challenged by the dichotomy between convenience and quality,” she says. And the chain does not want its customers to “have to trade one for the other, especially dinner on the go.”

By sales, Panera is the tenth-largest chain in the United States. And dinnertime purchases provide, on average, about a quarter to a third of the company’s sales. According to Panera’s chief growth and strategy officer Dan Wegiel, customer feedback suggests that the light soups, salads, and sandwiches currently provided by Panera Bread make for a healthy, but unsatisfying dinner.

The new dinner options include more sizable and satisfying meals, including flatbread pizzas, bowls, and meatier sandwiches that still utilize popular Panera flavors. New vegetable sides have also been added.

One noteworthy addition is the Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Artisan Flatbread, featuring smoked pulled chicken, chopped bacon, garlic cream sauce, fresh mozzarella and fontina, red grape tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and the chain’s classic chipotle aioli.

With food production contributing up to a quarter of the world’s total carbon emissions, chicken is becoming an increasingly preferred protein option for restaurants and customers alike. When compared with plant-based foods, animal-based food production necessitates a much larger carbon footprint.

Beef production uses, on average, about 20 times the land that plants necessitate, and results in at least 20 times as many carbon emissions as the average plant. And cows, goats, and sheep alike emit the highly potent greenhouse gas, methane.

For concerned meat lovers, there is a more carbon-friendly option than beef. According to a study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey examining the average daily eating habits of over 16,000 participants, chicken is a drastically better option than beef when it comes to carbon.

Of any type of meat, beef has the heaviest footprint, regardless of how it is cut. Chicken, in contrast, has one of the lightest footprints of animal proteins. Chickens are a surprisingly efficient source of protein, requiring far less fertilizer and land acreage.

Diego Rose, the lead author on the study and a researcher at Tulane University, stresses that every person needs to be proactive in combating climate change. “Climate change is such a dramatic problem,” he says. According to Rose, the only way to curb destructive increases in global warming is to curb the global beef, goat, and lamb consumption. “All sectors of society need to be involved.”

In another study using the U.S. Healthy Eating Index, Rose found that people who maintained a healthy diet typically have low carbon footprints. Plant-based diets consistently correlate with improved personal health and positive environmental effects.

Panera Bread does offer a plant-based menu for climate-conscious consumers. The menu includes sandwiches, bowls, soups, and a number of fresh smoothies. According to Noel White, the current president and CEO of Tyson Foods, plant-based and alternative protein menu items have been “experiencing double-digit growth.” Tyson Foods just added a plant-based brand to its product line.

Panera’s Wegiel maintains that the chain is looking toward the future. “We stepped back about a year ago ... to say, ‘Over the next five years, where are we going to grow? Where are we going to get most of our value creation?’”

In regards to growth, Panera Bread has already added to its menu options this year: the chain successfully expanded its breakfast menu with new egg wraps, bakery items, and a remodeled coffee program. Restaurants and fast food chains like Taco Bell have instituted similar menu updates to boost sales.

At present, the majority of Panera’s delivery orders occur around lunchtime. And the chain has rebuffed any suggested partnerships with third-party delivery services: Panera Bread handles all delivery needs itself. With new dinner options, the company may need to rethink its delivery strategy in order to accommodate an increase in evening orders.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To learn more, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Tyson Foods Launches Plant-Based Brand Raised & Rooted

Tyson Foods, the second largest meat packer in the world, will unveil its first plant-based nuggets and burgers this summer and fall, respectively. These products will be released as part of Raised & Rooted, the corporation’s new plant-based and blended meat brand.

Instead of chicken, the nuggets will be largely composed of pea protein. The burgers will be a blend of Angus beef, plants, and pea protein. The nuggets promise 30 percent less saturated fat than traditional meat, while the burgers guarantee 60 percent less. The nuggets also feature five grams of fiber.

Alternative protein is “experiencing double-digit growth,” says Noel White. White has served as president and CEO of Tyson Foods since late 2018. “It could someday be a billion-dollar business for our company.” He also affirmed that the company would continue to be “firmly committed” to its original meat-based products.

Raised & Rooted will face fierce competitors, including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat—and Tyson Foods only recently divested from the latter. Tyson Foods has previously invested in other alternative protein companies as well, including Future Meat Technologies, Memphis Meats, and Myco Technology.

After its announcement, Tyson Foods shares climbed three percent while Beyond Meat fell four percent. Beyond Meat ceased production of its plant-based chicken strips earlier this year. Kellogg’s currently offers vegetarian chicken nuggets through its Morningstar Farms division.

Tyson Foods intends to offer additional alternative protein products through its other divisions, and Raised & Rooted is not the first of the corporation’s numerous brands to offer plant-based products. Aidells currently features all-natural sausage and meatballs composed of blended chicken and plant proteins.

Research by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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