Gold Kist sees green in Orange Chicken deal

US - Gold Kist Inc. has signed a deal with Chinese fast-food restaurant chain Panda Express to become a key supplier of the chain's most popular entree, Orange Chicken.
calendar icon 29 November 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Gold Kist Inc. (NASDAQ: GKIS), the nation’s third largest chicken processor, has become a key supplier of Panda Express’s most popular entrée, Orange Chicken. Gold Kist will produce lightly battered boneless chicken bites for Panda Express, the nation’s largest and fastest growing Chinese quick-service restaurant. In addition, Gold Kist will be supplying fully cooked Mandarin Chicken and other chicken products to Panda Express in 2007.

"It is part of Gold Kist’s strategic plan to develop long-term business partnerships with category leading, growing companies, like Panda Express, that have strong corporate values similar to our own,” said John Bekkers, Gold Kist president and CEO. “We are very proud to be a key supplier of Panda Express Orange Chicken, and we are working hard to ensure that the product meets the expectations of Panda Express every day.”

“Panda Express is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains, and we need the capabilities of world class producers like Gold Kist to sustain our growth. We appreciate and value the commitment Gold Kist has made to Panda Express,” said Larry Behm, senior vice president of operations support and innovation.

Gold Kist and Panda Express celebrated this milestone with an employee appreciation event at the Gold Kist Boaz, Ala., processing plant that produces this original chicken product. More than 800 plant employees were greeted in their break room by the Panda Express Panda Bear mascot and the Gold Kist Chris P. Chicken character and treated to the Panda Express meal experience, which featured Orange Chicken, egg rolls, rice and fortune cookies.

“We wanted to thank the Gold Kist employees and give them an opportunity to experience their product as it is prepared in our Panda restaurants,” said Sonya Wong, director of quality assurance for the Panda Restaurant Group. “There has been a great display of teamwork between Panda and Gold Kist during the process of developing and transferring the ‘handcrafted look’ of this chicken product to large-scale production. This great partnership has been built on good communication, development of an in-depth understanding of the product, a willingness to adapt and change and an overall commitment to product quality and food safety.”

“This product has been a challenge because of the product’s sophistication and tight specifications. We did a lot of research with Panda Express store managers to get a true sense of the ideal product and went beyond conventional practices in development of the Orange Chicken production process,” said Don McFarland, Gold Kist further processing plant manager.

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