Packers as Food Processors

When producers sell pigs to slaughter, we all talk about selling to ‘packers’. USDA even has a Packers and Stockyards division to monitor payments, etc. As the food industry has evolved, we need to recognize that we now sell out pigs to large food processors, many of whom have pork as one of many divisions within their company. For some, pork slaughter, processing and sales is only a minor component of their overall business strategy.

This was brought home to me this week as I read a listing of the top 100 US and Canadian food processing companies, ranked by 2010 food sales. The ranking was done by editors of Food Processing magazine and the ranking appeared in their August issue. In 2010, ‘packers’ were ranked as food processing companies (food sales in million US $; Total sales in million US $):
4 – Tyson ($27,293; $28,430)
6 – JBS USA ($13,342; $32,949)
10 – Smithfield ($10,264; $12,203)
15 – Hormel ($7,221; $7,221)
16 – Cargill ($7,000; $108,000 – estimated)
25 – Maple Leaf Foods ($4,968; $4,968)
59 – Seaboard ($1,584; $4,386).

In this list, Tyson, Smithfield, Hormel and Maple Leaf Foods show little if any diversification. Their core business is food processing and sales and for Smithfield, Hormel and Maple Leaf Foods, pork is a major contributor to their overall business plan. On the other hand JBS USA, Cargill and Seaboard show significant income from other business pursuits. This diversification or lack of diversification makes for interesting speculation on how these various food processing companies approach the pork business.

As a point of comparison, the top 20 food processing companies were:
1- Pepsico
3- Kraft Foods
4- Tyson
5- Anheuser-Busch InBev
7- General Mills
8- Dean Foods Co.
9- Mars Inc.
10- Smithfield Foods
11- MillerCoors
12- Kellogg
13- Coca-Cola
14- ConAgra Foods
15- Hormel Foods
16- Cargill
17- Dole Food Co.
18- Pilgrim’s Pride
19- Sara Lee
20- Unilever

It is interesting to note how many of the major beverage companies (beer or soda) have a major presence in the food industry in addition to their beverage sales.

Further details about the ranking and the companies ranked is available at

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