Smithfield Foods closes plant, CEO expresses fear

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Smithfield Foods closes plant, CEO expresses fear

By Dan Ochwat - 04/13/2020

Smithfield Foods, one of the largest producers of pork, both branded and store brand, has been forced to close one of its largest plants due to COVID-19 illnesses arising at the location. The closing came with some strong words about the state of meat production as a whole from Kenneth Sullivan, the company’s chief executive officer.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Sullivan said. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”

Smithfield said it would be closing its Sioux Falls, S.D., facility, one of the largest pork processing facilities in the U.S., representing four to five percent of U.S. pork production and employing 3,700 people, according to a Smithfield statement.

The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.
Kenneth Sullivan, , Smithfield Foods

Cargill, Tyson and JBS USA have also had to close plants, adding to the strain being put on the meat supply chain.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are now ubiquitous across our country. The virus is afflicting communities everywhere. The agriculture and food sectors have not been immune. Numerous plants across the country have COVID-19 positive employees,” Sullivan said. “We have continued to run our facilities for one reason: to sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic. We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever. We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19.”

For more, see the full article in Retail Leader.