CNBC: Livingston-based Foster Farms talks with Tyson about potential $2 billion sale

Foster Farms donates 700 turkeys to Second Harvest

Manteca based food bank boosted its Thanksgiving turkey drive with 700 donated by Foster Farms, which processes the birds in Turlock.
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Manteca based food bank boosted its Thanksgiving turkey drive with 700 donated by Foster Farms, which processes the birds in Turlock.

Meat industry giant Tyson Foods is in talks to buy Foster Farms, the Livingston-based business that leads the West in poultry sales, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Neither company would confirm the discussions when contacted by The Modesto Bee. The cable business network based its report on unnamed sources, who put the price at roughly $2 billion. The two sides disagree on the exact amount, and the deal could fall through, CNBC said.

Foster Farms employs about 12,000 people in turkey production in Turlock and at chicken plants in Livingston, Fresno, Porterville, the Pacific Northwest and the South. Max and Verda Foster started the operation west of Waterford in 1939. It remains under family ownership.

The company said in an emailed statement, “As a policy, Foster Farms never comments on speculated mergers and acquisitions activity. While inquiries and rumors have come and gone for decades, Foster Farms has thrived as a family-owned company for 80 years. We are fully confident in our future success as a stand-alone company.”

Worth Sparkman, a spokesman at Tyson headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, said by phone that the company does not “comment on rumors.”

John Tyson founded the business in Springdale as a chicken supplier in 1935. It became a publicly traded company in 1963 and moved into beef and pork in 2001. Tyson Foods employs about 121,000 people around the world and reported about $40 billion in 2018 sales.

Its 42 brands include Tyson chicken, Jimmy Dean sausage, Hillshire Farm sausage and deli meat, Ball Park hot dogs, Aidells sausage and State Fair corn dogs.

Foster Farms is one of the largest employers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Its hundreds of products include whole chickens and turkeys, fresh poultry parts, ground meat, deli slices, marinated products, frozen patties and corn dogs.

Foster Farms has grown in part by acquiring other companies, such as a chicken plant in Louisiana and a corn dog plant in Alabama. The company has annual revenue of $2.4 billion, according to Forbes.

Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation in Modesto, said by email that he could not comment on Tyson’s reported interest in Foster Farms. He did say that the local company is “one of the most recognized and respected brands in the nation and especially the West Coast.”

The Foster family also owns the separate Crystal Creamery, a Modesto-based producer of fluid milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream and other products. It was founded in 1941 as Foster Farms Dairy.