Tyson Foods: How a climate disaster caused a stock plunge that slashed a family’s fortune

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USA’s biggest beef and poultry producer Tyson Foods is facing an economic crisis amid increasing production costs and declining demand in an inflation-battered market. The company posted a surprise second-quarter loss on Monday, which triggered a free fall in the company’s stock prices.

The shares tumbled a whopping 12 per cent, which effectively erased $300 million off the Tyson family’s fortune. The shares owned by the Tyson family are now worth $2.5 billion.

Tyson’s financial crisis

Tyson, the maker of popular meat products such as Aidells, Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean, has reported a sharp decline in beef sales and operating margins. Tyson’s adjusted operating margin for beef has fallen from 12.7% last year to just 0.2% this year. The company’s total beef margin for the fiscal year ending in September 2023 is expected to be between negative 1% and 1%, a significant drop from the original forecast of 2% to 4%. Sales of beef have also dropped by 3% to $4.6 billion.

Tyson’s pork and chicken production are also experiencing challenges, with the company reporting a loss per share of 4 cents, instead of the expected profit of 80 cents per share. The company has also revised its sales forecast for 2023, which is now expected to reach $53 billion to $54 billion, compared to the previously anticipated $55 billion to $57 billion.

The company has also resorted to slashing its workforce to cut operational costs. Last month, Tyson Foods Chief Executive Donnie King announced the company will eliminate about 10% of corporate jobs and 15% of senior leadership roles. 

Climate disaster behind Tyson’s misery

The extreme heatwaves sweeping across the US are responsible for the increase in livestock deaths, which is directly impacting the business operations of Tyson Foods.  Kansas, one of the top three producers of beef in the country, reported thousands of cattle death last year. 

This resulted in the shortage of livestock in the market that Tyson Foods needs to produce its output. As a result, it had to pay more for the animals that it slaughters. Heat waves and ensuing draughts also made livestock feed costlier, which further exacerbated the financial woes of Tyson Foods.

The National Weather Services (NWS) has warned of more extreme heatwaves in coming years, which will only pile misery on the beef business in the country. 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heat waves have become more frequent, longer, and more intense in the four decades since the 1960s. The annual number of heatwaves rose from two in the 1960s to six in the 2010s, and the heatwave season now accumulates more days than in past decades, reaching 70 days on average by the 2010s.

Climate researcher and professor Philip Thornton has warned that increasing heat will pose a significant challenge to livestock farmers. He notes that the livestock heat stress issue will become increasingly challenging for livestock farmers to deal with as the world warms. 


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