Donnie Smith — Sustainable Food Production
Donnie Smith has been CEO of Tyson Foods (TSN) since Nov. 19, 2009. At the time of his appointment, he’d already worked for the Arkansas food producer for 29 years, joining right out of college. Smith wanted to be a veterinarian, but his 3.3 grade point average in animal science at the University of Tennessee wasn’t good enough and so he applied to work at Tyson and the rest is history.
It’s estimated that 9 billion people will be living on earth by 2050. To feed all those people, food production will have to double from where it’s at today. To achieve this feat, big food companies like Tyson are a necessity. Smith, who doesn’t serve on the board of directors, earned $9.9 million in the fiscal year ended Sept. 28, 2013. Investors have seen TSN stock increase by 74% in 2013 and 167% since Smith took the top job in 2009.
Born in a small town in Tennessee, Smith has always been concerned about animal welfare. This concern led the company to create the FarmCheck Audit Program in October 2012, a program that’s intended to ensure that all 12,000 farms that supply TSN treat the animals humanely. I’m sure reports like the NBC News broadcast in November detailing abuse of pigs at one of Tyson’s pork suppliers in Oklahoma can’t be well received at corporate headquarters.
A faith-driven company, I’m sure Smith will continue to do the right thing and root out the bad operators that clearly exist. In the meantime, shareholders should expect to continue benefiting from Smith’s quiet leadership.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.