Smithfield Foods has announced the closure of a pork plant, marking the latest meat processor to shut a US facility amid the current coronavirus pandemic. The announcement coincides with the temporary closure of a JBS beef facility in Colorado.
The subsidiary of WH Group of China, Smithfield Foods, announced on Sunday 12 April that its Sioux Falls, South Dakota facility will remain closed until further notice.
According to Smithfield, the plant represents 4-5% of US pork production and supplies nearly 130 million servings of food per week. More than 550 independent family farmers supply the plant, while the facility employs 3,700 people.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Kenneth Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield.
“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.”
Smithfield plans to resume operations in Sioux Falls once further direction is received from local, state and federal officials.
Meanwhile, JBS Foods has closed its Greeley beef production facility until April 24 2020, marking the second JBS plant to shutter due to Covid-19.
JBS said on 13 April that it will wind down operations over the next two days in its Greeley beef facility with a diminished staff to ensure existing product in the facility can be used to support food supply needs.
According to JBS, the company has also experienced increased absenteeism in a few other plants, but continues to operate the majority of its facilities across the country at or near capacity.
The announcements follow closures by Cargill, Tyson Foods and National Beef Packing.
By Emma Upshall
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