Antibiotic free poultry is continuing to grow prompting investment in plants by major US processors.
Perdue Farms announced this week that it is to create 125 new jobs and invest $42m to expand its cooking operation in Houston county, Georgia, which produces a variety of frozen and cooked chicken products for consumers and restaurants.
Perdue Farms has taken the stance that it will never use drugs for growth promotion in raising poultry and livestock. Its brands are leaders in no-antibiotics-ever chicken, turkey and pork products.
Randy Day, Perdue Farms chief executive officer, said the expansion was due to increasing demand for antibiotic free poultry: “This expansion will help us meet the growing demand for no-antibiotics ever and organic products and maintain the high level of customer service and reliability our customers in Georgia and across the country expect from Perdue.”
Tyson Foodservice, a division of Tyson Foods Inc, has also this week announced an expansion of its healthy poultry food offers. Its Tyson Red Label product line, which is raised with No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) has seen a reformulation of 8 products and the introduction of new dark meat products.
Increasing numbers of fast food chains have pledged to go antibiotic free in the US with 14 of the top 25 companies surveyed last year taking steps to limit antibiotic use in some or all of their supply chains. These 14 companies, according to the Consumers Union, account for two thirds of all fast food industry revenue.
The survey found that 5 companies made a commitment for the first time to limit antibiotic use – KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Jack in the Box.
With a quarter of all chicken sold in fast food restaurants, according to the National Chicken Council, the change in practices represent a real trend towards antibiotics free chicken.
The turkey sector has also been following suit with the nation’s largest producer, Butterball Food Service, announcing last spring that it had launched a line of no-antibiotics ever turkey in the light of surveys which had shown two third of consumers preferring to eat proteins raised without antibiotics.
Part of the change in trend is due to the increasing pressure from consumer and welfare groups, such as the Friends of the Earth, Centre for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust and Keep Antibiotics Working.