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July 14, 2022

Tyson Foods adds automated capacity at Mississippi poultry plant

Tyson Foods' investment in Scott County will create 320 jobs.

By Simon Harvey

Tyson Foods has executed investment at a poultry plant in Mississippi to add capacity and automation to reduce “labour-intensive” activities.

The Arkansas-headquartered business has ploughed US$90m into its fresh chicken processing facility in the city of Forest, Scott County, an investment that will create 320 jobs to cater to the increased production capabilities.

While the site supplies retail and foodservice customers, the capital outlay is directed to serve the out-of-home channel, Tyson Foods said, as the company seeks “to meet the increasing demand for protein and deliver on its strategy of accelerating long-term growth”.

In the fiscal year to 2 October, Tyson Foods reported sales of $47.05bn, an in-crease of almost 9% from the previous 12 months. Operating income rose 46% to $4.4bn, while net income was up 47.8% at $3.06bn.

The publicly-listed company is due to report its third-quarter results on 8 August. In the first half to 2 April, sales amounted to $26.05bn, up 19.7%. Operating profit climbed 83% to $2.6bn, while net come rose to $1.96bn from $949m.

Last December, Tyson Foods revealed it planned to invest $1.3bn in automation over a three-year period through its 2024 financial year and take measures to upskill the workforce. At the time, Tyson Foods said the labour requirement would be reduced by 3,150 over the course of the programme.

“The automation process tackles the more labour-intensive aspects, while improving product yield and competitive pricing,” Tyson Foods explained with respect to the Forest plant.

David Bray, the group president for poultry, added: “We're excited about the expansion project at Forest and our continued efforts to increase our automation footprint. This project demonstrates our ability to execute a product mix change that translates into less intensive labour for team members, while creating more jobs at a competitive pay structure.”

Tyson Foods said it had “recently raised total compensation for team members, including raising hourly wages at the facility to at least $15 an hour”. The Forest plant employs 1,250 people, the company said.

Just Food approached Tyson Foods to clarify the details around the new product mix but the company declined to comment further.

In other areas of the business, the beef, pork and chicken processor is trialling a shortened working week at three US plants - its North Little Rock facility in Arkansas, the New Holland factory in Pennsylvania, and the Broken Bow site in Oklahoma.

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