US poultry, beef and pork processor Tyson Foods said yesterday [Monday] that it would close its Berlin, Maryland poultry plant, with the loss of about 650 jobs.

The processor said the move comes in an effort to reduce costs. Some operations will begin shutting down this week, with the plant expected to be at a standstill by the end of this year.

The group expects to take pre-tax charges of US$30m to $35m, or 5 cents to 6 cents a share, in the last two quarters of its fiscal year ending 27 September. The move is forecast by Tyson to improve tax earnings by approximately $10-15m per year, starting in fiscal 2004.

“This move is part of our company’s ongoing plant rationalisation efforts,” Bill Lovette, group vice president for Tyson’s foodservice unit, said in a statement. “These operations faced ongoing challenges with their product mix and need for capital improvement.”

Mountaire Farms of Selbyville, Delaware, will buy a feed mill from Tyson. It is located in Westover, Maryland.