Cooks Venture Shuts Down Poultry Operations, Lays Off More Than 500 Workers

Dec. 1, 2023
The Decatur, Ark.-based producer and processor of slow-growth chicken said it could not secure financing to continue operations beyond Nov. 30.

According to a local news outlet, vertically integrated poultry company Cooks Venture has shut down all of its poultry processing facilities — from farms and hatcheries to processing plants — effective Nov. 30, resulting in the layoff of more than 500 workers.

The facilities are concentrated in northwestern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, and include the following, according to the report: the Jay and Tahlequah, Okla., processing plants, and the hatchery, debone and e-commerce facilities and three farms in Decatur and Gentry, Ark.

The Jay processing facility employed the majority of the 511 workers being let go, the news report said. The outlet published a letter to employees from Cooks Venture that it had obtained, which blamed a “last-minute lack of financing” for operations for the lack of notice of the closures and layoffs. Cooks Venture also explained that it has tried unsuccessfully to obtain financing since early September to avoid such a shutdown.

Cooks Venture specialized in selling products produced from its own Pioneer chicken breed, a slow-growth breed developed from heritage chicken breeds. The company, which also focused on raising its poultry using regenerative agriculture practices, was founded in 2019 by Blue Apron co-founder Matthew Wadiak.

At the time that we published this news brief, Cooks Venture’s web site was still functional.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.