Tyson Foods has announced that it will be closing two chicken plants that employ more than 1,600 people because of a drastic drop in sales over the past year, and in an effort to streamline its U.S. poultry business. The plants in Glen Allen, Va., and Van Buren, Ark., will be shut down on May 12th.

In a statement to CNBC, Tyson said “while the decision was not easy, it reflects our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing full available capacity at each plant.” The Springdale, Arkansas-based company said it will work with its 692 employees in Glen Allen and its 969 employees in Van Buren to apply for open positions at other plants.

Tyson said operating inefficiencies were partly to blame for its lower-than-expected profit in its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31. The company said its operating income dropped 68% to $467 million in the period. Tyson has recently made other efforts to consolidate its operations: last October, the company announced it would relocate 1,000 corporate staff from offices in Illinois and South Dakota to Arkansas.

Editorial credit: mark reinstein /

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