Food industry publication names Sanderson Farms company of the year

Food industry publication names Sanderson Farms company of the year

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Sanderson Farms has been recognized as 2017's Food Company of the Year by Food Dive, a publication that covers the food industry.

According to Food Dive, several factors played into the decision to award the honor to Sanderson Farms, including the company's vow to continue to use antibiotics in its birds and its transparency amid concerns over those antibiotics.

According to the publication, Sanderson Farms Chief Financial Officer Mike Cockrell said the company has been using antibiotics in its birds for 70 years, and there are no plans to change.

The company says the use of antibiotics keeps birds healthier and reduces die off, and that keep prices low for consumers at the grocery store.

Sanderson Farms also pointed out what it calls "misleading marketing tactics" used by its competitors regarding the use of antibiotics.

"At Sanderson Farms, we have made it our responsibility to shine a light on misleading marketing tactics and labeling," said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO and chairman of the board of Sanderson Farms, in a news release. "By transparently addressing the issues, such as antibiotic use, we've been able to explain Sanderson Farms' stance on these topics while earning the trust of our valued customers."

According to Food Dive, customers of Sanderson Farms have responded positively to the company's transparency campaign.

Sanderson Farms reports its net sales in fiscal year 2017 were $3.3 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2016. As a result of increased sales, stock prices increased by nearly $50 from January 2017 to December 2017.

"With the expansion of our consumer education campaign and increased production at our newest processing plant in St. Pauls, NC, Sanderson Farms is positioned for significant growth in the new year," said Cockrell. "We expect to produce roughly 4.5 percent more pounds of chicken in 2018."