TYSON TAKES ON MEGA-BRANDING EFFORT
Bob Corscadden is chief marketing officer and senior vice president of corporate advertising and marketing services for Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest processor of chicken and red meat.
Tyson is undertaking quite a branding effort by consolidating all its recent acquisitions and product lines under the Tyson brand. What is the objective of this, and what do you want the Tyson brand to be known for? What is the response of food retailers and consumers?
This branding effort is designed to leverage the equity we have built over 68 years to create a single mega-brand representing protein choices for every type of retail, food service and international consumer.
Tyson launched this campaign to extend our leadership in the protein industry. Consumers know and trust the Tyson brand. The goal of this campaign is to make Tyson synonymous not only with chicken but also beef and pork, so that when consumers think about what they want to eat, the easy answer will be . . . Tyson.
Our campaign strategy is all about quality. The essential message is that you can expect the same high quality in our new beef and pork products that you've come to know in our chicken.
How is Tyson working to add value to both the producer and consumer?
For several years, the chicken industry has seen an intense focus on more branded, convenient, easy-to-prepare, flavorful products, which have moved a great deal of the category beyond the reliance on commodity market fluctuations. The farmers who grow chickens have benefited from this more stable marketplace. We believe we can take our expertise in creating and marketing branded value-added chicken products and apply it to beef and pork and, in turn, provide some of that stability to livestock producers.
How many processing facilities does Tyson own?
Altogether, Tyson has about 120 facilities, including beef, chicken, pork and prepared foods plants.
What economic impact does this have on rural America?
Although at this time we haven't aggregated that number, an average vertically integrated chicken operation will generate about $30 million in annual payroll, with an additional $15 to $20 million to chicken growers. We also try to buy local grain for feed ingredients where available. Tyson is the largest end-consumer of corn in the United States, buying about 300 million bushels a year. Also, the beef and pork operations do their best to buy local livestock.
Where does Tyson stand on the country-of-origin labeling issue? Who do you see gaining or losing from this if it is implemented? Any thoughts on the costs of all this?
We believe mandatory country-of-origin labeling will hurt our livestock suppliers, our retail customers and our company. We believe this measure, which we call "the law of unintended consequences," should either be repealed or made permanently voluntary.
A recent Sparks Companies and Cattle Buyers Weekly study projects the annual cost of implementing and operating mandatory labeling for the combined beef and pork industries to be in the range of $2 to $2.5 billion. A study by economists for the U.S. pork industry and Iowa State University concluded this law will cost the hog production sector an additional 10 percent, or more than $10 a head.
Meanwhile, an economist at Texas A&M University estimates start-up costs for only the beef industry at almost $9 billion.
Even if consumers are willing to pay more for meat products sold under the "Made in the USA" label, there is no proof this willingness will offset this enormous expense. If consumers won't pay, then the supply chain will pay, resulting in reduced income for producers, packers and retailers.
For those who thought filing taxes was a headache, just wait for mandatory labeling. As USDA representatives recently stated in a congressional hearing in Joplin, Mo., there is no way to give consumers credible country-of-origin labels without requiring documentation and trace-back to each animal's birthplace. This means roughly 140 million cattle, sheep and hogs each year will potentially need "birth certificates" that must be verified and maintained.