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Foster Farms: The Empire Poultry Built

February 3, 2014

Foster Farms was founded by young couple Max and Verda Foster in 1939. They borrowed $1,000 against a life insurance policy for the needed funding. They started out raising turkey, investing in an 80-acre farm near Modesto, California.

With the business future still uncertain Max worked at the Modesto newspaper to support the business while Verda concentrated on raising healthy chicks. Just to show how hands-on they were, the original hatchery was built right off their bedroom because the eggs required round-the-clock care. Verda would set the timer to alert her, day or night, when it was time to gently rotate the eggs.

With this kind of attention it was certain the business would grow as it did. Soon, Max was able to leave his job to focus on the growing business.  In 1950 the Fosters bought a feed mill to ensure consistent and healthy feeding of their chickens.  In 1959, they added a processing plant in nearby Livingstone. They now had a more integrated operation handling the supply chain from hatchery through processing. This maintained the high quality of their fresh chicken.

By the early 1970s Foster Farms expanded to Southern California due to consumer demand for fresh poultry. It acquired a distribution and sales center in El Monte, California. The El Monte center continues to be an important part of the Foster Farms organization till this day. It services a large area that covers Santa Barbara to San Diego, and as far east Las Vegas.

Today Foster Farms operates hatcheries, feed mills, processing plants and refrigerated delivery trucks. It also runs Foster Farms Dairy which processes and distributes milk through eight facilities located all over California.  The company has around 10,000 employees and revenue stood at $2.4 billion as of December 31, 2012.

Forster Farms continues to be a family-owned and operated company now in its fourth generation. From humble beginnings it is now a multibillion dollar undertaking.

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