Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark., announced on Nov. 19 it plans to discontinue operations at two of its processing plants as part of its efforts to improve overall performance of its prepared foods business. The closings will allow Tyson to use available production capacity at some of its other prepared foods facilities. Production will cease at the two plants next October.
Both its pepperoni plant in Jefferson, Wis., and its Chicago facility that makes prepared foods for the hospitality industry are expected to cease operations Oct. 1, 2016. The decision will affect approximately 880 people, including about 480 in Chicago and about 400 in Jefferson. No other facilities in Chicago are affected by the announcement, the company stated.
“We examined many options before we turned down this road,” says Donnie King, president of North American operations for Tyson Foods. “This affects the lives of our team members and their families, making it a very difficult decision. But after long and careful consideration, we’ve determined we can better serve our customers by shifting production and equipment to more modern and efficient locations.”
The planned closures are the result of a combination of factors, including changing product needs, the age of both facilities and the prohibitive cost of renovations, as well as the distance of the Chicago plant from its raw material supply base.
Tyson bought the Chicago plant in 1994. At that time, it was privately owned and made meals exclusively for airlines. Currently, it produces prepared foods such as tempura chicken, meatballs, crepes and soups for the hospitality industry.
The Jefferson facility, which produces sliced pepperoni and ham for pizza toppings, as well as sliced pepperoni and salami for deli and foodservice applications, was part of Tyson’s acquisition of IBP in 2001. Founded in 1875 as a beef, pork and lamb processing facility, the plant was converted during the late 1960s and early 1970s to further processing concentrating on pepperoni for the pizza industry.