SPRINGDALE, Arkansas, Feb. 1 Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN.N), the largest U.S. meat company, said on Friday it has signed a deal with a Chinese company to raise and process Tyson brand name chicken in China, with production forecast to begin in 2009.
In addition, the company said at its annual meeting in Springdale, Arkansas, it expects to close on two other poultry joint ventures this year, one in China and one in South America.
The latest deal is with the Jiangsu Jinghai Poultry Industry Group Co Ltd, a Chinese poultry breeding company.
The two companies will build a fully integrated poultry operation in Haiman City near Shanghai, which will be called Jiangsu Tyson Foods, and will produce fresh, packaged chicken products that will be sold under the Tyson name.
"Based on population alone, China offers an enormous opportunity. Demand for high quality fresh chicken in China is growing faster than the existing domestic supply can deal with," Tyson Chief Executive Richard Bond said during the meeting.
"We intend to help this need by becoming the first producer to deliver brand name, high quality fresh chicken to consumers in the eastern China market."
Construction of the processing plant will start once the Chinese government approves the project. A feed mill is currently under construction and the two firms will work to set up chicken farming operations to supply the plant.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, other than that Tyson will own 70 percent of that business.
This will be Tyson's second poultry venture in China, plus the company also has part ownership of a pork processing plant there.
Tyson is the largest U.S. beef producer and second largest U.S. producer of chicken and pork.
(Editing by Marguerita Choy)