Tyson Foods is to focus on expanding its international business, chairman and CEO John Tyson told shareholders last week at the company’s annual meeting.

“Without a doubt, we faced our share of challenges in 2005, but we’ve also seen strong indicators that show our strategy is working,” he said. “We’re optimistic because we have the right strategy and the right people coming together.”

He added that the food group would also be looking to create more value-added products and improve operational efficiencies.

Shareholders elected 10 members to the Tyson Board of Directors, including five independent directors, and voted on two other items during the meeting at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Chief financial officer Dennis Leatherby reported that capital expenditures in fiscal 2006 are expected to be US$600m to $650m.

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“Our future use of cash will first be to reinvest in our business,” he said. “The next use of cash will be to evaluate acquisitions, with an emphasis on international expansion.”

President and COO Dick Bond said: “Innovation drove our value-added sales growth of $500m in 2005 and we are expecting growth of $900m for a total of $12 billion in 2006.”

Aiding this effort will be the opening of Tyson’s new research and development facility known as The Discovery Center, the February start of the company’s third major case-ready meats plant and the continued expansion of Tyson’s growing bacon business, the company said.

The company said it had identified $302mn worth of projects in 2005 expected to generate $84m per year in cost savings or income and expects to spend $232m in 2006 to generate $72m per year in cost savings or income.