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Tyson is laying off nearly 1,700 poultry plant workers

<i>Christopher Habermann/The Toidi/Adobe Stock</i><br/>
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Christopher Habermann/The Toidi/Adobe Stock

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN

Tyson is laying off nearly 1,700 workers as it closes two poultry plants in an effort to boost profits.

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, on May 12.

The closure decision “[reflects] our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing the full available capacity at each plant,” a Tyson Foods spokesperson told CNN in an emailTuesday. 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, many of those workers in the tech sector. In this case, Tyson is pointing to weakness in its poultry operations.

Tyson, a major meat and poultry processor, mentioned 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 CEO 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 because of 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. Tyson also tapped a new head of its fresh meats division in December.

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