The Tyson Foods story begins during the Great Depression. In 1931, John W. Tyson moves his family to Springdale, Arkansas, in search of new opportunities. He finds them, thousands of them, all feathered and squawking. He begins delivering chickens to larger markets in the Midwest.
During World War II, food rationing becomes an everyday reality. Poultry, however, is not rationed, and demand grows fast. John moves into the business of raising chicks and grinding feed for local chicken farmers.
On April 10, 1946, John has a load of Andy Christy’s New Hampshire Reds delivered by airplane to Fayetteville, a first for Northwest Arkansas. John says later, "I decided early that, if you had the best chicks in the area, you’d have the best customers and get the best results."
At 22, Don Tyson, John’s son, joins the company as general manager. "I left the [University of Arkansas] in 1952, and from that day until 1963, the year I took the company public, I worked in the business six days a week and on Dad’s farm on the seventh day."
Meatpackers begin to base operations in Northwest Arkansas. In the late 1950s, John offers a parcel of land to a processing company to entice them to build a plant. The deal falls through, and Don convinces John that it is time to build their own processing plant.
In 1963, Don, now vice president, takes the company public as Tyson's Foods, Inc. Under his leadership, the company begins an odyssey of acquisitions that grows Tyson Foods in every direction.
Don's vision guides the company to fruitful acquisitions and new markets. "Don had an uncanny ability," Leland Tollett would later say. "But the real success of the company is the result of a genuine commitment by Don to 'always take care of our people.'"
To kick off the decade, team members move into the new corporate offices in Springdale on Oaklawn Drive. We’re still located in the same place today, although a few more buildings have been added and the street name changed to Don Tyson Parkway in 2008.
In 1972, the company name changes to Tyson Foods, Inc., as we know it today. Along with the name change, we introduced a new look, the Tyson® oval.
Despite the struggling economic situation in the early 1980s, Tyson Foods experiences a period of tremendous growth. “We find something we think we can do, focus on it, and then aim to be number one at it.” says Don in the 1986 annual report.
In 1983, Tyson Foods acquires Mexican Original, Inc., a flour and corn tortilla processing plant in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
By the end of 1989, the company has doubled in size in just five years, becoming the world’s largest fully-integrated producer, processor, and marketer of poultry-based food products. The company also formally organizes its International division with joint ventures in both Mexico and Japan.
Throughout the 1990s, Tyson Foods enters new markets worldwide including countries in Asia, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim. By 1991, the company’s international sales offices include Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada. In 1995, the company establishes its Moscow office.
Buddy Wray becomes chief operating officer in 1991, and in 1995, president is added to his title. In 1991, Leland Tollett is named CEO, Vice Chairman of the Board in 1993, and then Chairman in 1995.
In 2000, Chairman John H. Tyson is also named CEO. Like his father and grandfather, he begins leading Tyson Foods through another period of dramatic expansion. In 2001, Tyson Foods acquired IBP, inc., becoming the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork.
The Discovery Center is completed at the Springdale headquarters in 2007. It serves our company, the industry, and our consumers as an unrivaled force of innovation.
In 2010, Tyson Foods marks its tenth year as a partner with Share Our Strength, donating more than 76 million pounds of products to hunger and disaster relief. The partnership is part of our history of fighting hunger in communities across the U.S.
In July 2014, Tyson Foods marks 10 years of sustainability progress. We remain committed to our five pillars of sustainability: healthier animals, healthier communities, healthier environment, healthier food and a healthier workplace.
In August 2014, Tyson Foods, Inc., completes its acquisition of The Hillshire Brands Company, resulting in a company with more than $40 billion in annual sales and a diverse portfolio including brands such as Tyson®, Wright®, Jimmy Dean®, Ball Park®, State Fair®, and Hillshire Farm®.
Tom Hayes is named President & CEO of Tyson Foods in December 2016. Tom is a veteran of the consumer products industry and also served as Tyson Foods chief customer officer.
In April 2017, Tyson Foods announces the acquisition of AdvancePierre Foods. The move expands our portfolio of prepared foods and protein-packed brands.
Justin Whitmore becomes the very first Chief Sustainability Officer for Tyson Foods in May 2017. The role is introduced along with a new purpose and strategy that places sustainability at the center. “This is a company I know and respect,” says Whitmore, “I'm excited to contribute to its strong legacy of leadership as we take on the challenge of global food sustainability.”
Noel White is named President & CEO of Tyson Foods in October 2018. Noel was group president of beef, pork, and international.
In November 2018, Tyson Foods completes acquisition of Keystone Foods, a leading supplier of chicken, beef, fish and pork to the growing global foodservice industry.