US meat processor Tyson Foods has said it plans to reduce its workforce by around 5%, or nearly 6,000 people, and invest in the automation of some of its facilities.

Speaking at a meeting of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York, Tyson’s senior management said the company planned to further evolve its product portfolio from commodity to value-added products.

Dick Bond, president and chief operating officer, said Tyson was well positioned to take advantage of the increase in dining out in the US, adding that Tyson has around US$9bn in foodservice sales. Bond also acknowledged the growing popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, and said the company is working with a number of customers to get more low-carb products on their menus.

Bond added that the company plans to reduce its workforce by around 5%, primarily through attrition. At the same time, Tyson will spend close to $70m in 2004 to further automate some of its facilities. 

Greg Lee, chief administrative officer and international president, said the company’s domestic focus is on organic growth and new product offerings, but that strategic acquisitions would also play a role.

“Strategic acquisitions have played a key role in growth for our company in the past, and would expect them to play a key role in the future. Targeted acquisitions which support our current portfolio or fill in identified gaps are likely,” Lee said.