For decades, Smithfield Foods operated as one of the primary powerhouse acquirers in the meat and poultry industries, snapping up brands and businesses throughout the better part of the last 40 years. During that time, the Independent Operating Companies (IOC) strategy, by which Smithfield operated as a group of standalone, brand-oriented divisions, was developed and followed almost religiously.
But the last five years have brought a methodical avalanche of change to that legacy approach and the future path. In 2013, WH Group Ltd. (then named Shuanghui International) acquired Smithfield Foods, a move that offered the business better access to growing Chinese pork demand, but also signaled change ahead. In February 2015, the company announced the “One Smithfield” initiative, phasing out the IOC model in favor of a structure organized more closely around customer needs than brands. Ken Sullivan — who took over as president and CEO at the end of 2015 — was instrumental in the initiation of “One Smithfield” and has championed it from the very beginning.