Feb 25

When Jayson Penn graduated from Florida State Univ., there was little doubt that his career would be in the poultry industry. In fact, he is the 4th generation of his family to work in the industry.

And now, he’s reached a major leadership role. Today, he is president and CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride Global, part of JBS S.A., a Brazilian-owned multi-national food company, one of the largest chicken producers in the United States and Puerto Rico, and the second-biggest chicken producer in Mexico.

Penn grew up in the New York City area – his great-grandfather Max Penn raised fowl in upstate New York in the 1940s. In the early 1950s, his grandfather Jack Penn started Manor Poultry Processors and then founded Pine Valley Poultry Distributors, a poultry wholesale company for inner city distribution to chicken outlet retail stores and restaurants in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York. His father Ron then moved the business into the next generation.

“In 1981, my Dad moved our family to Conyers, Georgia, about 20 miles east of Atlanta,” he says in a New York accent that is reminiscent of his upbringing. “He specialized in dark meat products for both domestic and export markets, ahead of his time for American tastes. In the mid-1980s, his company became one of the regular suppliers of white and dark meat for the newly created McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.”

And it doesn’t appear that the chicken business tradition is going to stop with the 4th generation. Penn has four daughters, and his oldest went to school where he did – Florida State – and interned last summer at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., where Penn has been CEO and president since early last year, succeeding William W. Lovette in the position. “So now, there’s a 5th Penn generation in the poultry industry,” Penn says with a laugh. “She’s now a trainee at Pilgrim’s.”

Penn joined Pilgrim’s in 2011 as senior vice president of the commercial business group, and then became president of Pilgrim’s USA. Before coming to Pilgrim’s, he held management positions at Sanderson Farms and Marshall Durbin Cos. He also was director of sales for Case Foods. He got his business training at Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

He also plays a prominent role in industry organizations and associations, serving on the board of USA Poultry and Egg Export Council in the past, currently secretary/treasurer of the National Chicken Council, and recently joined the board of The World Poultry Foundation.

“It’s very important for us to play a strong role in these associations and organizations. This is how we strengthen our industry,” he says.  Read full article at MeatPoultry.com


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