The continued growth of case-ready beef and pork sales in the Southern U.S. has prompted Tyson Foods to make some adjustments in operations in order to make more effective use of its existing production capacity company officials reported today.

The adjustments will shift some production from its Council Bluffs, Iowa, case-ready plant to its facilities in Goodlettsville, Tenn. and Sherman, Texas.  The two plants are closer to the company’s growing customer base. The actions will displace approximately 480 of the 1,300 people employed at the Council Bluffs plant.  

The action comes just days after Smithfield Foods announced the closure of its outdated John Morrell plant in Sioux City, Iowa. That move is expected to displace 1,450 workers.

“Our overall case-ready business is operating successfully and we must continue to control costs and improve efficiencies,” said Gary Sheneman, senior vice president of case-ready beef and pork for Tyson.  “We believe shifting some production from Council Bluffs to our other plants is the right thing to do for our overall business, which continues to grow and diversify its customer base.  The unfortunate downside is the impact on some of our employees.”

A portion of second shift case-ready production at the Council Bluffs plant will be suspended in mid-March and subsequently handled by the company’s two other case-ready facilities, which have available capacity. 

The affected workers will be encouraged to apply for openings within the company and also will be invited to a job fair Tyson officials plan to host.  In addition, Tyson intends to work with state officials to ensure the employees are informed about unemployment benefits and any potential re-training opportunities.

“We believe the Council Bluffs plant will remain an important part of our case-ready beef and pork business and continue to benefit the local economy,” Sheneman said.  “In fact, if enough additional case-ready business develops in the Midwest, we’ll consider reinstating the production we’re suspending at Council Bluffs.”

Tyson’s case-ready facilities use beef and pork from Tyson Fresh Meats’ operations to produce packages of steaks, roasts, chops, ground beef and other items that are ready for retail grocers to place directly into the meat case. 

Tyson Fresh Meats, formerly IBP, began a small scale case-ready operation at Council Bluffs in early 1999.  Production at Council Bluffs subsequently grew, and in 2001 the company opened a case-ready plant in Goodlettsville.  The Sherman plant began operations in 2006.

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Source: Tyson