American poultry giant Tyson Foods was looking to gain a foothold in Europe, potentially opening up opportunities for imports from the US.
The firm has announced an agreement to purchase BRF poultry assets, which include four processing facilities in Thailand and one in the Netherlands and the UK, which it said would allow it to serve high growth markets in South East Asia.
Noel White, chief executive of Tyson Foods, highlighted it would also give the firm a ‘stronger foothold’ in Europe where it was ‘currently under-penetrated’.
The deal gave Tyson a manufacturing base in Europe and a platform to import product from South East Asia into Europe.
The EU was the world’s second largest exporter of chicken, as well as the third largest importer, importing breast meat and exporting other cuts.
Mr White also flagged the potential of US imports into the EU, where they had been banned for more than 20 years on phytosanitary grounds. This mainly concerned the use of chlorine as an antibacterial agent, currently used by many US processors.
Potential access for chlorinated chicken into the UK has been a key point in the Brexit debate.
He acknowledged shipping from the US to the EU was ‘not an option’, but it could be possible in the future.
He underlined that Tyson Foods was seeking ‘not only the manufacturing capabilities within Europe, but the ability for us to ship from other low-cost supply regions globally into that market’.
“This provides that potential, both in terms of a manufacturing standpoint as well as the sales and distribution standpoint.
“Any opportunities that we see would be added to that, which could at some point be the United States, but that is not currently the case.”