The news from the Top 100 meat and poultry processors and the news about the meat industry have had two very different tones this year. The headlines in newspapers and Web sites, of course, have been dominated by arguments for and against the meat industry — largely against. There was the report from the World Health Organization that named processed meat as a carcinogen, as well as the more recent theories that global warming could be stopped if the world just went vegan. While those reports could be refuted with facts (the WHO, in fact, did backtrack from its original inflammatory statements), the corresponding attempts at balance did not undo the potential damage of the original stories.

Did those alarming news stories have an adverse effect on the meat industry, though? Not according to this year’s Top 100 Processors Report. The reports from processors were largely positive, as a majority of respondents said that this past year was either “good” or their “best year ever.” Almost every company added that this year would be better or as good as last year. Given the mixed results and tentative forecasts given by processors in previous years for this report, the industry ought to feel a sense of accomplishment heading into the second half of 2016.

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Many companies posted record sales in the last fiscal year. There were the usual new product launches and new market openings. Several processors expanded their facilities or added new operations. There may not have been as many acquisitions as there have been in previous years, but there were some noteworthy transactions, such as JBS USA’s purchase of Cargill’s pork operations and the acquisition of Applegate Farms by Hormel Foods.

In fact, of all the concerns listed by respondents to this year’s survey, consumer demand barely registered as a blip on the radar. The largest industry concerns were said to be over-regulation and labor availability. Economic issues (fluctuations in commodity prices, industry consolidation, minimum wage requirements) were also noted frequently. Poultry companies are naturally on guard against avian influenza — one company noted that it lost 15 percent of its flock last year. The uncertainty around this year’s presidential election was noted several times, and as one company put it, “We live in an uncertain world.”

Many of the respondents to this year’s survey reported growth opportunities in a wide array of markets. Some are looking to expand further into case-ready, private label or exports, others plan to take advantage of niches in the industry. Grass-fed beef, craft burgers, all-natural, organic, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, barbecue and e-commerce were listed as potential opportunities for this year. Given that the consumers’ love of meat and poultry remains unshaken, there are plenty of opportunities for companies of all sizes to find their next big success. NP

The 2016 Top 100 Processors Rankings

The National Provisioner would like to thank the companies that participated in this year’s report. If you would like to be a part of next year’s Top 100 Processors Report, please e-mail Sam Gazdziak at

2016 Market Segment Reports

Scroll through the slideshow above for the 2016 reports on meat and poultry market segments.

Editor’s note: The market segment reports are gathered by information submitted by the following companies. Those companies that did not respond or declined to provide specific information were not included.

Highlights from the Top 100

  • AGRI BEEF CO. launched the Double R Ranch line of premium deli meats into the retail market. PerforMix Nutrition Systems, a liquid and dry feed supplement and nutrition company for the beef and dairy industry that is a subsidiary of Agri Beef, announced that it will build a new state-of-the-art production facility in Rupert, Idaho.
  • ALLEN HARIM FOODS moved to a 100 percent vegetarian feed for its chickens. Its signature Nature’s Sensation brand is also raised with no antibiotics ever. The company introduced a new logo and new packaging to highlight these attributes.
  • BRUCEPAC recently started up its new plant in Durant, Okla.
  • CARGILL MEAT SOLUTIONS converted its Columbus, Neb., ground beef plant to a cooked meats plant with new capabilities (total value $111 million). It also opened a new beef distribution facility at its Dodge City, Kan., beef processing plant (nearly $50 million) and acquired a Columbia, S.C., beef processing plant from FPL Foods. Cargill also announced a 20% reduction in antibiotic use for beef cattle in four feedlots owned by Cargill and four owned by a strategic partner and is conducting a feedlot sustainability initiative with those eight feedlots. Cargill received a Texas state Blue Water award for water conservation at its Friona, Texas beef processing plant, earned landfill-free status for its Hazleton, Pa. case-ready plant and installed Tesla batteries to store electric energy for peak-period use at its Fresno, Calif., beef processing facility.
  • CS BEEF PACKERS LLC, a joint venture between Caviness Beef Packers Ltd. and J.R. Simplot Co., is expected to open its plant near Kuna, Idaho in the fall of 2016. The nearly 300,000-square-foot plant is expected to process a maximum of 1,700 head per day, and could create up to 600 new jobs.
  • CHICAGO MEAT AUTHORITY had a renewed focus on the portion control market, with particular emphasis on building restaurant chain business. Product-wise, the company has been expanding its steak cutting business, not just on the basis of SKUs, but with custom cutting to deliver product that exactly meets customer needs. “Because of our size and structure, we can do this even for small chains who might not have this option from a larger processor,” the company said.
  • In January 2016, COLORADO PREMIUM acquired NATIONAL DELI LLC, a deli meat company headquartered in Miami, Fla. The company produces a variety of raw and cooked products, including corned beef, roast beef, pastrami, prime rib, and hot dogs.

See how these, and other, meat and poultry processors placed in this year's Top 100 Rankings.

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