My Front Seat to Chance, Progress and a Bright Future for Tyson Foods

A message from Tyson Foods outgoing President & Chief Executive Officer Noel White

As I finish my time as the Tyson Foods CEO, I’d like to reflect on three things: my gratefulness for our team, my thanks for what we’ve achieved, and my excitement about the future of this great company.

I grew up in the Midwest and was active in sports like football, baseball, and hockey. I loved it, and I enjoyed being part of a team. It’s also where I began to learn about leadership.   

That’s why the food business has been such a good fit for me. Just like sports, it requires a strong team to succeed. You need collaboration, strategy, endurance and – especially – flexibility. 

I’m grateful for being part of such a great team at IBP and Tyson Foods over the past 37 years. As I look back, I’m pleased I’ve had a “front seat” view to change. I’ve seen how food demand and technology have transformed our industry and our company.

Consumers have been driving that change. They want more products that are easy to prepare but are safe and affordable. They’ve also been spending more money on food away from home at restaurants. We’ve adapted by boosting our research and development efforts – collaborating with customers to produce more value-added products that are either partially or fully prepared.

Through acquisition, we’ve become a house of brands, with recognized retail names like Tyson, Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm. And, we’ve entered the alternative protein business.

Over time, we’ve expanded our ability supply to the nation’s most well-known restaurants – as well as other foodservice operators like schools and universities.

Consumer demand for protein continues to grow around the world. That’s why I’m pleased by how we’ve expanded our international footprint with operations in Europe, China and Asia Pacific.

Through the team’s efforts here at home and around the world, Tyson Foods has truly become The Protein Company. While this has been the most challenging year of my career, I’m proud of how our team has rallied to address the pandemic.

While it’s not over, I’m pleased to report the protective measures we’ve implemented are working. Well under 1 percent of our U.S. workforce currently has active COVID-19. And, we’re rolling out a new monitoring strategy at our plants we believe will help us stay head of the virus.

I’m optimistic about the future of Tyson Foods. We’re a leader. We’re positioned for global growth. And, most importantly, we have a great team. Our fundamental mission will continue to be feeding the world with the strongest portfolio of products – across brands, channels, and proteins.

This means positioning ourselves as the global protein authority. We’ll continue to meet customer and consumer needs with new and improved products, including more plant-based protein items. 

Tyson Foods will accelerate efforts to use new technology. We’ll keep leveraging things like machine learning, computer vision, robotics and advanced analytics that drive prediction.

We’ll continue investing in sustainability, because it’s an important thing to do. This means more progress in such key areas as: food quality and nutrition, animal welfare, the environment, workplace safety, and supporting our plant communities.

I’m confident we’ll also see more progress in another important area: equity, inclusion and diversity.

In closing, I want to say “thank you” to my Tyson Foods colleagues for their support over the past two years. I want to thank our chairman, his family and the board of directors for entrusting me as CEO. It has also been a privilege to work with the members of our Enterprise Leadership Team, and I look forward to more collaboration with Dean Banks as he becomes CEO and I move into my new role on the board. 

I began by talking about teamwork – and I’m going to end with a quote about it. Someone once said:

“The leaders who work most effectively, never say ‘I.’ They think ‘we’ – They think ‘team.’ They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it – and, they make sure the team gets the credit. This is what creates trust – and enables you to get the task done.”

My thanks to all our team members for working together in all we have accomplished.