US poultry giant Tyson Foods says it will close its bacon processing plant at Holly Ridge in Onslow County, North Carolina, early summer.

Tyson said in a new release: "It no longer makes business sense to remain open given the age of the facility and the distance of the plant from raw material supplies."

The closure will make all 467 workers employed at the plant redundant, a heavy blow for the town, where it is the largest individual employer. Representatives of another Tyson bacon facility in Texas will shortly make a trip to Holly Ridge to interview any employees willing to consider relocation.

Staff at the plant have been through an extended period of uncertainty over the last three and a half years. The plant was owned by Thorn Apple Valley, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999. Meatpacking giant IBP acquired the assets, but was then itself acquired by Tyson last year.

Processing equipment installed at the 132 square foot plant will be transferred to other Tyson facilities while the plant itself will be sold, Tyson said.

The workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.