Tyson Foods Announces Closure of Perry, Iowa Pork Plant, Impacting Over 1,200 Workers

In a significant move, Tyson Foods has confirmed the permanent closure of its pork processing plant in Perry, Iowa, resulting in the displacement of over 1,200 employees. This decision adds to a series of recent plant closures announced by the company, reflecting shifting dynamics in the meat industry.

The announcement, which followed Tyson’s filing with the state as mandated by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) act, cited declining demand and changes in product preferences as key factors. The Perry plant, slated to cease operations by June 28, has been a cornerstone of the local community, leaving approximately 8,200 residents without their largest employer.

Tyson Foods emphasized the difficulty of the decision, acknowledging the impact on its workforce and the community. The company urged affected employees to explore other job opportunities within the company, pledging to work closely with state and local authorities to provide additional resources for those affected.

Mayor Dirk Cavanaugh of Perry expressed the profound impact on the community, emphasizing the challenges ahead without the plant. The closure is part of Tyson’s broader strategy to optimize operational efficiency and better align with evolving market demands.

This closure comes in the wake of Tyson’s recent shutdowns, including poultry facilities in Corydon, Ind.; Dexter, Mo.; North Little Rock, Ark.; and Noel, Mo., affecting around 3,000 workers. The Perry pork facility closure is expected to be completed by the end of June, aligning with Tyson’s ongoing restructuring efforts.

Tyson Foods, which experienced significant profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, has faced a subsequent decline in demand for certain products. The pork division reported an adjusted operating loss of $128 million in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, compared to a $198 million income in the previous year. Sales volumes declined by 2.2%, and average prices slid by 7.9%.

As the Perry plant played a crucial role in processing approximately 9,000 pigs per day, its closure represents nearly 2% of total U.S. pork production. The broader implications of this decision on the local and regional economy underscore the challenges faced by communities dependent on the meat processing industry.

Tyson Foods remains committed to its presence in Iowa, with over 9,000 team members employed across its other facilities in the state. The company has undergone recent strategic changes, including the launch of the OneTyson program and the opening of new facilities in Virginia and Kentucky, signaling a dynamic period for the meatpacking giant.