US pork processor Smithfield Foods has revealed it will build four meat processing plants in China.

Smithfield was acquired by Chinese meat giant Shuanghui International last year. Before the takeover, Smithfield had been exporting products to China. Those exports continue but, in a conference call discussing its results, the US firm outlined the group’s plans for a physical presence in the country.

Bo Manly, Smithfield’s chief synergy officer, said four plants were under construction. The first, in Jinzhou in northern China, would be a “Smithfield-only” plant, Manly said. Three others will “come online within the next 18-24 months” that would “produce Smithfield-branded products and soused baking products under the Smithfield brand”, he added.

“We’re very, very excited about that. We have put a number of marketing resources from this country against that project, as well as engineering activities and working with their counter parties in China.”

The announcement came alongside “record” first-quarter results for Smithfield. The company is a subsidiary of the now renamed WH Group but continues to publish numbers for bond holders.

For the three months to the end of March, operating profit more than tripled to US$196.4m. Sales grew 3% to $3.4bn.

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By GlobalData