In 1998, the Sara Lee Corporation implemented a corporate strategy of deverticalization. Bil Mar Foods, Inc., a subsidiary of Sara Lee responsible for the processing of packaged meat products, followed the strategy by shutting down its turkey slaughter facility in Zeeland, Michigan. As a consequence, turkey growers in Michigan were left with no viable outlet for live bird slaughter and the potential end of live bird production in the region. This study analyzes the economic impact associated with the cessation of live bird slaughter at the Bil Mar Foods plant. The economic consequences may be as high as an $81 million loss in total industry output, a $29 million loss in income, and a total employment loss of nearly 800 jobs. Faced with these economic consequences, turkey growers in the region joined forces to form a valued-added cooperative.


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