Ex-Pilgrim’s Pride CEO to head Foster Farms

By Staff
2 Min Read

Foster Farms named a former Pilgrim’s Pride executive charged in a sweeping price-fixing case as its new CEO, the chicken company said Monday.

Jayson Penn will take the helm from Donnie Smith, former head of Tyson Foods, effective immediately. Smith was named CEO in 2022 as part of Atlas Holdings’ acquisition of Foster Farms.

“Jayson’s deep industry experience and commitment to operational excellence provide the right combination to lead Foster Farms into the future,” Atlas Partners Sam Astor, Ed Fletcher, and Mike Sher said in a joint statement.

Penn most recently served as president of John Soules Foods, which makes chicken nuggets and other ready-to-eat meat products. He stepped down as Pilgrim’s Pride CEO in 2020 after the Justice Department indicted him and other executives on charges of conspiring to fix chicken prices.

Penn pleaded not guilty and was acquitted in 2022 after the case went to trial for a third time. Before joining Pilgrim’s in 2011, Penn held various sales and operations roles with Case Foods, Marshall Durbin Companies, and Sanderson Farms.

“Foster Farms has been a household name for nearly a century, and I’m excited to continue working to position this iconic brand for success for many years to come,” Penn said in a statement. “A solid foundation for smart growth has been set, and I’m ready to get started.”

As part of the leadership transition, Foster Farms also appointed James Richards to chief financial officer. Richards joins from Kodi Collective, where he led the marketing production firm’s turnaround before it was acquired in February.

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