Mainstream meets new age

April 5, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+


Nestled in the Lebanon Valley in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country lies the town of Fredericksburg, PA (population 1,140), the coincidental home of antibiotic-free, all natural chicken in North America. Fredericksburg plays host to not one but three processors of these premium poultry products.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Farmers Pride Inc. is sincerely flattered, though the presence of two followers in the segment is more a point of irritation. On the other hand, Farmers Pride's Bell & Evans brand is the category leader, and competition from mainstream food companies-local competitor BC Natural has cross-ownership ties to Swift & Company-suggests natural poultry has made the transition from niche product to established segment.

The natural and organic foods movement used to be dismissed as a phenomenon of former hippies; in fact, it's fueled by long-time industry players who likely would have been squeezed from the market if they competed head-to-head with commodity suppliers like Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride. Scott Sechler, Farmers Pride's chairman and president, grew up on an area livestock farm and had a bird's eye view of yield-driven changes by growers. Convinced he could realize similar yields with birds reared on a more wholesome diet, Sechler began lining up growers to execute his concept soon after he acquired Farmers Pride in 1984.

"I remember visiting a plant in the 1960s that smelled of fish, and my dad explained it was the fishmeal they fed the birds," he recalls. "Then I noticed the introduction of antibiotics, which soon was running berserk. People didn't realize that these practices added so much cost." Recognizing an untapped demand for higher quality products, he began organizing the infrastructure that now supports not only his facility but also the others in Fredericksburg. It also helps explain why Pennsylvania is home to half a dozen independent hatcheries, a vanishing breed in today's poultry business.

"We have a big infrastructure of growers, including some of our own employees, that are not owned by us," Sechler reflects. "We're tickled by all these partnership deals. They all make money, and everybody is happy."

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Fabulous Food Plant: Paramount Citrus

Learn more about this fabulous food plant in Food Engineering's article, found here.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

THE MAGAZINE

Food Engineering Magazine

Food engineering magazine 2014 april cover

2014 April

Catch a preview of the Powder and Bulk Show in this April 2014 edition of Food Engineering. Also, be sure to check out a coffee stick making a real stir and a major advancement in the the pet food industry.
Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

 

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.pnglinkedin_40px.png