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CEO of largest US chicken producer on sustainability: 'Big food has to get in the ballgame'

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer sat down with Tom Hayes, the CEO of Tyson Foods, to talk about the future of meat products and sustainability.
  • Hayes said that "big food has to get in the ballgame" when it comes to sustainable solutions.

Sustainability is a hot topic across industries, but Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes told CNBC that even major food producers like his have to step up to the plate.

"Here's the issue: If we're going to feed nine and a half billion people around the world by 2050, we have to be part of the solution. Big food has to get in the ballgame," Hayes told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer when asked about sustainability efforts.

Tyson is the country's largest chicken producer and has a large share of the beef and pork markets. As a start, the company recently eliminated the use of antibiotics in all of its chicken products.

Hayes, who took on the role of CEO in June 2016, insisted that large companies have to incite change themselves to tackle sustainability problems.

"These problems are not going to be solved by backyard farms. So we're taking it on. We have to be a part of the game, not only be a part of it, we want to lead it," he said.

Hayes added that Tyson, which operates predominantly in the United States, has some other, loftier goals when it comes to providing protein to world markets.

"Our strategic intent is to be the world's best, most sustainable protein supplier, bar none. And it's because of that fact. More than 50 percent of all consumers in the U.S. are actively trying to add protein to their diets," the CEO said. "So it is not a fad. It is something that is part of the health regimen for so many Americans and people around the world, so absolutely, that is our square focus."

Watch Tom Hayes' full interview here:

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