Perdue, China in joint venture Eastern Shore-type processing complex to be near Shanghai


February 20, 1998|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Perdue Farms Inc., the Salisbury-based company that has been given much of the credit for putting chicken on the American dinner table, would like to put more in Chinese homes.

The company announced yesterday that it has entered into a joint venture with a Chinese company to establish a fully bTC integrated poultry processing complex near Shanghai similar to its operations on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The complex, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, will have a hatchery and a chicken processing plant. The chickens will be raised by contract growers, as in the United States.

"We will be bringing U.S. poultry processing techniques to China," said Dick Auletta, a spokesman for Perdue.

The arrangement with Dah Chong Hong, a large trading company that is also involved with marketing such diversified items as automobiles and cosmetics, will be Perdue's first production operation overseas.

Perdue declined to disclose its investment in the complex or say how many chickens it will process annually. Auletta said the China complex "will be a significant operation," but not as large as its Eastern Shore facilities.

Perdue produces abut 87 million chickens in Maryland each year. It employs about 2,300 workers, and its annual payroll is about $65 million.

"The current market in Shanghai is fragmented and growing dramatically, especially for yellow chicken products," James A. Perdue, the third-generation chief executive of the family-owned business, said in a prepared statement.

The yellow chicken in China won't be the same as those grown in the United States, according to Auletta. He said the "yellow chicken" to be processed at the complex is "highly prized" in the Shanghai market but not as broad-breasted as the one grown here.

Given the nature of the Chinese market, fresh processed chickens as well as live birds will be sold.

Perdue chicken is no stranger to Chinese consumers. The company has been exporting its chicken products there for seven years.

Each week Perdue processes in excess of 42 million pounds of chicken products and 3.5 million pounds of turkeys.

About 10 percent of the company's output is exported, which has become the fastest-growing segment of its business. Its export business has more than doubled in the past four years.

Perdue ships to more than 30 countries around the world. China is a big market, but not the company's biggest, said Auletta.

Pub Date: 2/20/98

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