SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Food Processing magazine has named Tyson Foods Inc. its first-ever "Processor of the Year," Tyson reported today.

"Despite its size and age, Tyson manages to remain a wonderful combination of aw-shucks Arkansan can-do attitude coupled with modern R&D, manufacturing and marketing tools under a benevolent yet demanding management," wrote Dave Fusaro, editor-in-chief of Food Processing in the magazine's December issue.

"The biggest North American food company (by our count) also is its biggest manufacturer. Tyson outsources very little. It effectively manages 147 processing plants and 114,000 employees. It adds value the old-fashioned way: by manufacturing those products better than anyone else can."

The selection process involved Food Processing editors as well as the magazine's editorial advisory board. Criteria included sound financial performance, innovative product development, leading manufacturing technology, managerial excellence, commitment to quality and general industry leadership and service.

Tyson's fiscal 2004 sales of $26.4 billion made it the biggest food processor in the United States and Canada, according to Food Processing's Top 100(C) list unveiled in August.

"For the first time in the 30 years of our annual ranking, Kraft Foods or a predecessor company is not No. 1 on our list," Fusaro said.

Tyson "did it the old-fashioned way" by launching more than 420 new products and experiencing solid results in its chicken and pork segments.

"While the numbers are impressive, there are numerous intangibles that make Tyson an industry-leading company: A set of core values that everyone seems to carry in their wallets," Fusaro said. "Manufacturing technology that leads the industry ... a (new) product development center nearing completion. A chaplaincy program ... And a response to victims of Hurricane Katrina that put government agencies to shame."

Food Processing published three stories on Tyson Foods in its December edition.

Tyson Foods Inc., founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, is the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork. The company produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products, and is a recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves, providing products and service to customers throughout the United States and more than 80 countries.

SOURCE: Tyson Foods Inc. via PR Newswire.