PONCA CITY, Okla. -- As part of ongoing efforts to improve operational efficiency, Tyson Foods, Inc. is closing its Ponca City, Okla., processed meats plant and is shifting production to other company facilities. Tyson officials are trying to find a buyer for the plant, which has been in operation since 1995. The facility closing is expected to result in a non-cash charge to Tyson's fiscal second quarter earnings of approximately $0.02 per share.



"This is a very difficult decision because it affects the lives of our people, their families and the community; however, it is critically important to our business," said Dick Belsito, senior vice president of processed meats for Tyson Foods. "After extensive consideration, we've concluded closing Ponca City and moving the production to three other plants is necessary to improve the viability of our overall processed meats operations."



Tyson officials have been in contact with potential buyers of the plant; however, no sale has been completed.
The Ponca City plant produces a variety of deli-style luncheon meats and ham products. This production will gradually be shifted to Tyson plants in Buffalo, N.Y.; Cherokee, Iowa; and Houston.



The Ponca City plant closing will affect approximately 580 people, who today are being given a 60-day notice as required by law. However, the actual termination of operations and displacement of workers will take place gradually. The closing process will begin in late May and will most likely not be completed until sometime in July or August.



Representatives of Tyson's Human Resources staff will meet with affected Ponca City workers in the coming weeks to discuss other employment opportunities within the company. They will also work cooperatively with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, which will provide information about unemployment benefits and other job opportunities.



"We want to express our appreciation to our Ponca City team members for their hard work and support of the company over the years," said Belsito. "This decision was based on improving asset utilization, not on their job performance."



Tyson Foods, Inc., founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, is the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500.



SOURCE: Tyson Foods, Inc. via GlobeNewswire.