Backstory and Context
Perdue farms based out of Salisbury, Maryland, is the epitome of a modern-day, large farm corporation. Perdue farms is the United State’s third largest producer of poultry products, behind Tyson Foods and Pilgrims Pride, being responsible for about 7% of the chicken market in the United States. It was founded in 1920 by the married couple Arthur and Pearl Perdue who began by selling eggs from a small flock of chickens that they had grown, adding on in 1925, to begin selling layer hens to farmers rather than just eggs to consumers. The company had grown over a 71-year period to reaching $1billion in annual sales. The history of Perdue farms was not always sweet, though. Before Jim Perdue took over as chief executive in 1991 the company had gone through a three-year stent with no growth, while the industry was growing at a 5% annual rate, which meant grim outcomes if things did not change quickly. In the short six-year stent after Jim took over from his dad, the company doubled it’s annual sales from the one billion mark to $2.1billion dollars in a single year. The company’s business plan included expanding farther west into the domestic market, building plants and hatcheries throughout the Midwest, as well as greatly increasing the amount of exports to markets like China where different portions of the chickens that Americans think of as worthless, such as the feet of the chicken can be sold as delicacies for eighty cents a pound.
Shelsby, Ted. “No Business for Chickens Perdue: Salisbury- Based Perdue Farms, the World's No. 2 Poultry Processor, Is Charting Its Growth in New Domestic and Foreign Markets to Compete in a Thin-Margin Industry.” baltimoresun.com, October 23, 2018. https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1997-05-18-1997138060-story.html.