Tyson Foods Inc. on Thursday announced plans to close two aging prepared-food plants, in the face of prohibitive renovation costs and changing demand.
About 880 workers would be affected by the closures of the plants in Jefferson, Wis., and Chicago. The meat-processing company said the workers—about 480 in Chicago and about 400 in Jefferson—are being encouraged to apply for other openings within the company.
“We examined many options before we turned down this road,” Donnie King, Tyson’s president of North American operations, said in a statement. “This affects the lives of our team members and their families, making it a very difficult decision.”
The Chicago plant, which had been acquired by Tyson in 1994 and originally made meals for airlines, now produces meatballs, crepes, omelets and soups, among other products.
The Wisconsin facility was founded in 1875 as a processing facility for beef, pork and lamb. It currently produces sliced ham and pepperoni for pizza toppings and sliced pepperoni and salami for delicatessens.
The closures come as Tyson continues to remake itself after its 2014 acquisition of Hillshire Brands Co. Shortly after the announcement of the acquisition, Tyson announced in July 2014 that it was closing three prepared-food plants. In recent quarters, revenue growth in the prepared-food division has led the company’s top-line growth, primarily as a result of the Hillshire acquisition.
In August, the company announced it was closing a 400-person beef-processing plant in Iowa, citing declining U.S. cattle herds.
In October, Tyson announced it was raising hourly wages for 34,000 employees at its U.S. chicken plants to better attract and retain workers.
By Austen Hufford
Source: Wall Street Journal
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