by Max Brantley
Vikon Farms is going to spend more than $5 million to restart a former Petit Jean Poultry plant in Arkadelphia that will employ more than 172 people processing a special breed of chicken sold to Asian markets. It's a free-range chicken fed organically and wins high marks for flavor around the country.
Here's a story from LA weekly on the chicken:
The company sells Vikon chickens, a heritage, brown-feathered breed that falls under the United States Department of Agriculture categorization of "Buddhist-style" poultry.
The main difference? "Buddhist-style means the head and the feet are still attached," Dana Phu, owner of Cal Fresh said. The whole chicken represents familial unity.
Dana and her husband Quan Phu, Chinese immigrants from Vietnam, began their business in 1991 because they saw a lack of eviscerated chickens with the head and feet still attached in the market.
"Our parents would tell us to buy fresh chickens with the head and feet attached. We would have to drive all the way out to Los Angeles in Chinatown to get it," Dana said. "The chickens are used in Buddhist or Taoist religions to worship ancestors."
In 1991, the couple started up a hot bird plant (meaning it follows California slaughterhouse regulations) in Rosemead and in 1993, opened up a USDA-approved facility. "We ship as far as Chicago, Washington State, Texas and Kentucky," Dana said.
Their particular breed of chicken can be found in most Chinese grocery stores in the San Gabriel Valley and affluent Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood like New Capital, Ocean Star and NBC Seafood Restaurant are among the company's clients. But ancestral worship isn't the only appeal for their customer base. Compared to mainstream chicken, the poultry at Cal Fresh is a perfect fit for cooks. "I would describe the texture as firmer, almost more al dente but still really moist," Trang said. "It's great for braising or steaming."
Vikon Farms, a poultry processing company, today announced plans to locate a new processing facility in Arkadelphia, which will employ more than 172 people within four years. Vikon will invest $5.4 million in the facility, formerly home to Petit Jean Poultry. In addition to the jobs created directly by the new processing facility, Vikon will also contract with a significant number of growers from El Dorado and Union County along with a Vikon supported hatchery in Prescott. Vikon produces a specialty breed of chicken that serves numerous Asian markets.
"We are excited to be here,” said Quan Phu, President and CEO of Vikon Farms. “We appreciate the extensive amount of support from the Arkadelphia Economic Development Alliance and Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Our expansion to Arkansas could not have been done without the unwavering assistance of the Arkadelphia, El Dorado, and Prescott communities.”
Vikon Farms raises chickens that are free-range and naturally grown. The poultry maintains an all grain diet with no hormones or antibiotics added.
“Vikon Farms is doing more than bringing jobs to Arkadelphia; they’re building agricultural partnerships with growers in our region,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “I know they will be satisfied with the dedicated workforce they will find in Arkadelphia and Clark County as they establish their Arkansas operation.”
Vikon Farms will be the first company to locate in Arkadelphia and Clark County since the passage of the community’s Economic Development Tax.
“This is the type of announcement that shows exactly how working together can pay off,” said Shawnie Carrier, President and CEO of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance. “Vikon Farms will be a name all of Southwest Arkansas can be proud of. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Quan Phu and his team as he makes this project a reality. He expressed the attention to detail and welcoming nature of Clark County and Arkansas helped make the decision to move his California business here. We are so glad he did.”
Those interested in employment opportunities with Vikon Farms can call 870-246-1460.
For more information, visit www.vikonfarm.com.