|By DOUG SCHMITZ
SPRINGDALE, Ark. — To expand its bacon production base, Tyson Foods, Inc. told Iowa employees on Jan. 13 that the Springdale, Ark.-based meat processing giant would be closing two of the state’s five facilities, effective March 17.
“We’re making this investment to help meet continued, strong demand for refrigerated and precooked bacon,” said Bill Lovette, a vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods, a division of Tyson.
The move is another example of the technology and food safety improvements Tyson initiated to position itself for future growth in the processed meats business by increasing its position as one of the nation’s leading bacon manufacturers, Lovette said.
“For example, we’ve invested almost $15 million in our deli meats plant in Buffalo, New York, over the past two years,” he said.
The company plans to close Tyson Deli/Iowa Ham plants in Independence and Oelwein, which make chopped ham and sliced lunch meats. Tyson is the largest employer in Independence, which has a population of more than 6,000.
Tyson officials also said it would be spending more than $30 million to add bacon production at its plant in Cherokee, Iowa, where bacon operations at the facility are currently scheduled to begin this summer and would complement production at the company’s bacon plants in Omaha, Neb. and Vernon, Texas.
The company’s decision to expand bacon production would shift ham operations at Cherokee to Tyson’s facilities in Concordia, Mo. and Buffalo, N.Y., which would temporarily reduce Cherokee’s workforce of 650 by more than 50 jobs over the next few months, Lovette said.
But the company is expected to add approximately 70 jobs when bacon production begins later this year, he added.
Tyson also has facilities in Waterloo and Columbus Junction, Iowa.
Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.