Smithfield will close its Portsmouth, Virginia plant, casting doubt over 425 jobs

Smithfield will close its Portsmouth, Virginia plant, casting doubt over 425 jobs

A subsidiary of US meat giant Smithfield Foods Friday has announced the closure of its plant in Portsmouth, Virginia, hitting 425 jobs.

The Smithfield Packing Company says the factory, which was constructed in the 1970s, is obsolete and cannot support required changes in manufacturing technology.

As a result, it will close in early 2013. Hot dog and lunchmeat production will move to the company's plant in Kinston, North Carolina.

"We deeply regret having to close this facility. We recognise that layoffs and plant closings are difficult for everyone concerned", Tim Schellpeper, president of Smithfield Packing, said on Friday (11 November).

"But at the same time, we believe this is a necessary business decision. We are committed to our workforce and will work diligently to transfer as many employees as possible to our other operations in North Carolina and Virginia."

He added: "While this was a difficult decision, this change will improve the overall efficiency of our company and enable us to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products."

In September, Smithfield Foods reported what it described as "record" first-quarter results, with net sales climbing 7% to US$3.09bn and an operating profit of $173.2m.