US – Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, has made a decision to shutter two poultry processing companies in Glen Allen, Virginia, and in Van Buren, Arkansas, in May as part of a plan to strengthen its poultry business.

in a statement, Tyson said: “While the decision was not easy, it reflects our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing full available capacity at each plant.”

In its latest quarter, Tyson’s chicken business underperformed expectations as its operating income was halved compared with the year-ago period. CEO Donnie King said it got “hit in the mouth” in the quarter because of all the protein available on the market.

The company’s plants in Van Buren, Arkansas, Glen Allen, Virginia, and broiler and hatching operations will close on May 12, affecting nearly 1,700 employees.

Tyson said it is helping affected employees apply for open jobs and offering relocation assistance to other plants. The Glen Allen plant has 692 employees, while the Van Buren facility has 969 workers.

However, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, representing the nearly 700 Virginia employees, said in a statement that the company did not give it a warning about the closure.

“These men and women risked their lives and the safety of their families to keep this plant operational during the pandemic, and this is the thanks they get?” the union’s local president Mark Federici said.

In 2021, Tyson announced its intention to construct a new US$300 million plant in Danville, Virginia — in the same county as Glen Allen — to produce fully cooked chicken products like Any’tizer chicken bites and chicken nuggets.

The facility is still under construction and is set to open in August, local news outlet WDBJ reported last month.

Commenting on the new chicken production plant, Federici said Tyson has received “untold sums of taxpayer dollars” to construct the Danville plant.

The meat processor is not the only company to lay off workers in an effort to cut costs. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both of which are in the alternative meat space, have cut more than a fifth of their workforces as demand wanes for their products and the companies look to conserve cash.

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