Slaughter Free Koch Foods Campaign Brief
Joseph Grendys, Chairman, CEO and President of Koch Foods, has made his enormous fortune on the slaughter of chickens. He ranks #389 on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth of $3.3 billion. Koch slaughters more than 12 million chickens per week and contracts with up to 5,000 chicken farmers at any given time, making Koch the fifth largest chicken meat producer in the U.S. with an estimated $3.9 billion in annual revenue. In 1985, Koch Foods started as a one-room chicken processing operation with 13 employees. Since 1992 Grendys has vertically integrated the company by buying up feed mills and slaughterhouses. “Grendys has spent years pulling in sky-high profits, and even during the worst inflation in 40 years, Koch Foods is able to report record sales volumes weekly. In fact, Grendys complains that demand is so high that Koch can’t keep up,” writes Chloe Sorvino for Forbes in June, 2022.
Meanwhile there is a perfect storm brewing which makes the timing for this campaign critical. Bird flu continues to spiral out of control in the commercial chicken, turkey and egg industries, resulting in 38 million birds (and counting) being brutally killed using Ventilation Shutdown. Inflation and the war in Ukraine are causing feed and fuel prices to spike, causing major food industry disruptions. Animal agriculture is finally becoming more recognized as a primary source of the climate crisis. And yet, Grendys is now thinking of expanding his empire to include “other proteins.”
Koch has a long history of violations for animal welfare, employment, public health and safety, financial and environmental offenses that resulted in millions of dollars in fines, according to Violationtracker.
In 2018, Koch Foods settled a class employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to the tune of almost $4 million. The EEOC charged the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination as well as retaliation against a class of Hispanic workers at Koch’s Morton, Miss., chicken processing plant.
“Chicken” is actually the bodies of chicks rapidly fattened to adult weight in just 6-weeks. A 2014 MFA investigation exposed chicks at a Koch facility being violently slammed into transport crates and having their legs and wings broken before being electrocuted and then scalded alive. Koch is a key supplier for Chick-fil-A, according to Mercy for Animals.
Last Chance for Animals also released its undercover investigation in 2015, filmed at a Koch facility.
Koch reportedly dumps their birds like trash to inflate their prices. In 2022 Koch and other major chicken meat producers were hit with a third antitrust lawsuit for alleged price fixing. In previous lawsuits, retailers allege that Koch and others schemed to fix the price of chickens by “destroying their own breeder hens and eggs to thwart production, resulting in a roughly 50 percent price increase.”
Despite all these issues, Koch has managed to come out ahead financially and continue to expand. We believe that a grassroots pressure campaign that applies pressure at a variety of peripheral targets and encompasses a coalition of aggrieved parties is essential to getting Koch to shift their market focus. Koch is a major player in an industry that is grossly inhumane and unsustainable, and an existential threat to life on this planet. The writing is on the wall yet time is not on our side. We must rapidly push the industry to transition to plant-based agriculture, replacing animal products with plant-based analogues.
Our campaign aims to pressure Grendys to transition Koch Foods to a slaughter-free, plant-based model as the only ethically and environmentally sustainable solution to the planetary crisis we face.
Our ultimate goal is to transition Koch Foods to a slaughter free business. Within this goal’s framework we have established a number of incremental objectives that lead us in that direction:
Objectives, incremental wins
- Get one of the thousands of contract farmers to dump Koch and speak out against Koch
- Get a disgruntled employee to speak out against Koch
- Impact sales growth
- Disrupt supply chain in some way (raw materials supplier)
- Get a Koch grocery customer to dump a Koch brand
- Get a Koch restaurant customer to dump a Koch brand
- Get a Koch wholesale customer to dump a Koch brand
- Get a supplier to dump Koch as a customer
- Get an investor or bank to divest from Koch
- Get a regulator to investigate Koch
- Get Grendys to agree to shift a certain portion of business to plant-based
- Get a prominent person to back our campaign
- Get media coverage of our campaign
- Day of action that disrupts business as usual
- Key senior staff member resigns
- Grendys is dropped as a board member of another organization
- Grendys is dropped as a speaker at a conference
- Koch is dropped as a sponsor of a major event
- Add a coalition member to our Koch campaign
- Shut down a Koch slaughter facility
- Defeat a proposed Koch slaughter facility
- Legal ruling against Koch
- Legal ruling or scandal on Grendys
Joseph Grendys, Chairman, CEO and President Koch Foods
What makes Grendys a good target? He’s the top decision maker in a privately-held company; he cares about his reputation as it is key to maintaining his customers and market share; he is reasonably accessible to us.
Research is underway to determine all of the potential peripheral targets that could apply pressure to Grendys/Koch. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Key suppliers
- Key service providers (insurance, financial)
- Key customers (Jewel, Tony’s, Walmart)
- Senior Koch officials
- Key investors
- Any additional key figures or orgs that have influence over Grendys
Campaign name brainstorming
[Note: Koch is pronounced “cook”]
- Slaughter Free Koch Foods
- Demand a plant-based food system
Tactics will be developed in more detail as the campaign progresses. In general, all tactics are designed to get us to the negotiation table where we can present our work, discuss the issues and communicate our demand. We will use levels of escalation that leverage calls to action delivered via social media, email, phone calls, protests, and other forms of creative, nonviolent action.
Affinity groups will be encouraged. We’d like to see affinity groups formed to oversee research, organizing, strategy, recruitment and community building, communications, event planning and activism.
There is a great potential for coalition building with other groups and causes due to the intersectional nature of the campaign and the wide range of aggrieved parties. Allies could include groups and individuals involved in immigration, ICE, workers rights, anti-factory farming, gender discrimination, public health and safety, climate and environmental issues, etc.
- Rev. Emma Lozano with Lincoln United Methodist Church (773) 847-7282)
- League of United Latin American Citizens Chicago, Rose Mary Bombela, President, cell 312-437-6644
- Familia Latina Unida/Centro Sin Fronteras
- Elvira Arellano, a well-known immigration activist, worked for Koch Foods,
- Rev. Walter Coleman with Lincoln United Methodist Church, 773-671-1798, Emma Lozzano
- María Ines Zamudio, reporter for WBEZ
- Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Kim Wasserman ED, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-762-6991
Certain resources will be needed to obtain the information needed to inform and carry out our campaign. Those resources will be listed here.
- New or proposed Koch slaughter facilities, the status of their approvals and which public officials have jurisdiction
- Key suppliers details (company names, CEO contact details)
- Key customer details (company names, CEO contact details)
- Koch Senior staff contact details (Susanna)
- Listing of all Koch owned facilities
- Key investors details (company names, CEO contact details)
- Legal judgments or rulings against Grendys or Koch
- Grendys personal interests and affiliations (clubs, sports groups, professional orgs, board member positions, venues or restaurants frequented, etc.)
- Events or organizations that have had Koch as a sponsor
- Elected officials who have any ties, financial or otherwise, to Koch, either having received campaign donations from Grendys or Koch OR has made policy decisions favorable to Koch
- List of current Koch contract farmers (names, owners/CEOs, and contact details)
- List of most likely coalition members
- Explore potential civil liabilities for SFN (Ryan, Brad)
- Explore possible legal cases against Koch/Grendys
- Grendys/Koch Fact Sheet/leaflet
- Flowchart of suppliers and their locations
- Flowchart of customers and their locations
- Matrix of Koch facilities and their locations
- Flowchart of Grendys affiliations with other clubs or orgs
- Matrix of regulatory authorities over Koch
- Develop key talking points, email templates, campaign naming ideas,
- Matrix of ally groups and community leaders