Tyson Foods to close Iowa pork plant with 1,200 workers

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Tyson Foods will permanently close a pork plant in Perry, Iowa, the meatpacker said on Monday, eliminating jobs for about 1,200 workers.

The company, which reaped big profits as meat prices soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, has since confronted a decline and slowing demand for some products. Tyson has announced the closures of six U.S. chicken plants in about the past year and also laid off corporate employees.

The pork plant employed about 1,200 people in Perry, which has about 8,200 residents and is located near the state capital Des Moines, Mayor Dirk Cavanaugh said.

“It’s a big blow to the community,” he said by phone. “It’s our largest employer in the area. It’s going to be tough to figure out what to do without them.”

Cavanaugh said the plant is set to close on June 28.

Tyson did not respond to questions about the number of employees there but encouraged workers to apply for other jobs within the company.

“While this decision was not easy, it emphasizes our focus to optimize the efficiency of our operations to best serve our customers,” the company said.

Tyson’s pork business had an adjusted operating loss of $128 million in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, down from income of $198 million in the previous year. Its sales volumes fell 2.2% while average prices slid 7.9%.

The plant in Perry slaughters about 9,000 pigs per day, said Steve Meyer, chief livestock economist for Ever.Ag. That accounts for a little less than 2% of total U.S. pork production.

In December, Smithfield Foods said it would end contracts with 26 hog farms in Utah, citing an industry oversupply of pork and weaker consumer demand. Smithfield in October said it would shut a pork plant in North Carolina, after previously confirming it would close 35 Missouri hog farm sites.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)