March 15, 2023


Tyson to lay off nearly 1,700 workers in US with poultry plants' closure




Tyson is laying off nearly 1,700 workers in the United States as it closes two poultry plants.


The company will shutter a chicken processing plant in Glen Allen, Virginia, that employs 692 people, as well as one in Van Buren, Arkansas, with 969 employees.


The closure decision "(reflects) our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimising operations and utilising the full available capacity at each plant," a Tyson Foods (TSN) spokesperson told CNN in an email on March 14. The scale of the facilities as well as an "inability to economically improve operations has led to the difficult decision to close the facilities," according to the spokesperson.


Tyson had about 124,000 US employees as of October.


Several companies have been laying off workers amid still-high inflation and fears of a recession, with many of those workers in the tech sector. In this case, Tyson is pointing to weakness in its poultry operations.


Tyson noted problems in its chicken business during a February analyst call discussing the company's most recent quarterly results.


In the three months ending on December 31, "demand didn't appear in the parts of the market where we had expected," Tyson chief executive officer Donnie King said on the call. "As a result, we had to move things around." That led to higher costs and lower prices, he added.


"As we think about moving forward, efficiency in our operations in our company will be the focal point for us," he said.


The company has been shaking up that part of the business amid broader turnover.


Tyson announced Wes Morris as the new head of its poultry business in January. Morris, a long-time employee of the company, left Tyson in 2017 and had since consulted for its poultry business. He replaced David Bray, the previous poultry president, who had just stepped into that role in 2021 — the same year that Tyson reported its chicken volumes were low due to breeding issues.


Also in 2021, King became CEO, replacing the previous chief executive Dean Banks, who had been at the helm for under a year. Additionally, Tyson tapped a new head of its fresh meats division in December.



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