Amy Tu was named executive vice president and general counsel for Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale in December 2017. She oversees Tyson legal matters including litigation and investigations, corporate securities and governance, mergers and acquisitions, international, labor and employment, environmental, and health and safety. She also leads the venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures.
Before joining Tyson, Tu worked at the Boeing Co. of Chicago as chief counsel for global law affairs. She also previously led global transactions and international legal matters as international corporate counsel at the Gap of San Francisco and Walmart of Bentonville.
Tu received her degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and her bachelor’s in economics from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She is a director of the University of Arkansas National Alumni Board.
What do the forecasts and studies show about consumers’ demand for meat substitutes? Do you think this is a “thing”?
This is an exciting time for our industry and especially for Tyson. There’s growing global demand for all forms of protein. Research shows 60% of consumers say they’re actively looking to add more protein to their diets, and half of those are looking to add plant-based protein. As a protein leader, Tyson is well positioned to grow our product offerings and capabilities to meet these demands.
Tyson Foods continues to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to grow and improve our existing meat and poultry businesses, while also actively exploring innovative opportunities through the venture capital fund that I lead, Tyson Ventures, and developing our own new and exciting products to give consumers more choices. For example, as our CEO Noel White announced recently, Tyson Foods is preparing to launch a line of plant-based products for retail distribution this year.
Why does Tyson Foods want to expand internationally?
Tyson sees a great deal of opportunity for growth internationally. Roughly 90% of global protein consumption growth over the next five years will happen outside of the United States. Although Tyson has been involved in the international markets for many years, we recently started to accelerate our international activity, growing our footprint with the acquisition of Keystone Foods late last year and expecting to close on our purchase of BRF’s operations in Thailand and the EU/UK shortly.
You’ve been a corporate counsel at Boeing and Walmart. What attracted you to the Tyson position?
What really attracted me to Tyson was its purpose: to raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. When you visit with Tyson team members, you cannot help but be impressed by the integrity, commitment and passion of our team members. For me to be a part of a dynamic organization, with such dedicated team members, working in a very agile and competitive industry (and back in my hometown!), was an opportunity too good to pass up.
You’re a director on the University of Arkansas National Alumni Board. What advice do you give students?
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I like to talk to students about the value of working hard and with excellence, be it in law or elsewhere. As for in-house practice, I tell students that being embedded with your client — the company — helps you better understand how it operates and how you can add value and provide solutions.
I’m also focused on diversity, including the advancement of women, in the legal profession. I really appreciate all of the women who have supported me, and I just feel like I need to help support future generations. According to a survey, only 25% of Fortune 500 general counsel positions are held by women; however, it’s encouraging that Walmart, Tyson and J.B. Hunt are each led by a female general counsel. That doesn’t happen by accident.