Tyson Foods could shed more than 1,600 jobs as the US meat major plans to shut two poultry facilities.

Scheduled for 12 May, the closures affect the company’s Glen Allen plant in Henrico County, Virginia, and the Van Buren site in the county of the same name in Arkansas. The factories employ 692 and 969 workers, respectively.

“To strengthen our chicken business, we are focused on operational excellence and optimising our network to reach full capacity in every Tyson Foods facility. With that said, the current scale and inability to economically improve operations has led to the difficult decision to close the facilities,” the Springdale, Arkansas-headquartered business said in a statement.

In both cases, Tyson Foods said it planned to “shift demand” to other facilities and will work with employees “to help ensure they have the option to apply for open positions and relocation assistance where applicable” to alternative plants.

Separately, Tyson Foods announced plans in October to close three corporate locations – two in Chicago and one in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, employing around 1,000 people. An offer was made to those workers to shift to Springdale, Arkansas. However, a report emerged in December that a majority of staff at those locations were unwilling to move to other facilities.

A spokesperson for publicly-listed Tyson Foods confirmed to Just Food today (14 March) the company will have 44 other poultry plants in the US once the Glen Allen and Van Buren sites close, with another set to come on stream later this year in Danville, Virginia.

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By GlobalData

Tyson Foods had flagged back in 2021 it planned to eliminate jobs across its network. In December of that year, the business revealed it would invest US$1.3bn in automation over a three-year period through its 2024 financial year and take measures to upskill the workforce. At the time, it said the labour requirement would be reduced by 3,150 over the course of the programme.

For the fiscal 2023 first quarter to 31 December, Tyson Foods posted sales of $13.2bn, up 2.5% year on year. Chicken volumes grew 2.5% to about $4.2bn while beef volumes rose 2.9% to around $4.7bn. Pork was down 7.4% at $1.5bn.

In the numbers announced in February, group operating income plunged to $467m from $1.5bn, and adjusted EPS slid to 85 cents from $2.87.

For the 2022 financial year to 1 October, Tyson Foods’ sales amounted to $53.2bn, up 13%.

See Just Food’s interview: “The pandemic brought urgency to automation” – Tyson Foods’ Chetan Kapoor on the meat giant’s push on production technology