AS part of efforts to improve the overall performance of its prepared foods business, Tyson Foods Inc. recently announced plans to discontinue operations at two plants. The closings will enable Tyson Foods to use available production capacity at some of its other prepared foods facilities, the company said.
Both the pepperoni plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin and the Chicago, Illinois, facility, which makes prepared foods for the hospitality industry, were expected to cease operations during the second half of the company’s fiscal year 2016, which ends October 1, 2016. The decision will affect approximately 880 people, including about 480 at Chicago and about 400 at Jefferson. However, the company said none of Tyson Foods’ other Chicago facilities or offices will be affected by the announcement.
“We examined many options before we turned down this road,” said 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.”
Tyson said the planned closures are due to a combination of factors including changing product needs, the age of both facilities and prohibitive cost of renovations, as well as the distance of the Chicago plant from its raw material supply base.
Affected workers will be encouraged to apply for openings within the company. Additionally, the company said it intends to work with state officials to ensure employees are informed about unemployment benefits and any potential re-training opportunities.
Tyson Foods bought the Chicago plant in 1994. At the time, it was privately owned and made meals exclusively for airlines. The Jefferson facility was part of Tyson Foods’ acquisition of IBP Inc., in 2001.