Tyson Foods Inc. said on Thursday it plans to resume production at several idled beef plants over the next two weeks as supplies are expected to improve in the coming months.

Tight cattle supplies, weak domestic demand for beef and the continued absence of key export markets prompted Tyson to temporarily suspend operations on Jan. 10 in Denison, Iowa; Norfolk and West Point, Nebraska; and Boise, Idaho. Second-shift processing at Pasco, Washington, was also suspended.

"While cattle numbers remain tight, we believe supplies will improve in the months ahead," Tyson Chief Executive John Tyson said in a statement.

Tyson said once the plants resume operations, they will likely still operate at reduced levels until market conditions improve due to weak beef demand brought on by high prices.

The company said it typically sees seasonal improvement in beef sales moving into the spring and summer and it hoped cattle prices would moderate and lead to lower beef prices.

Meanwhile, Tyson, commenting on U.S. efforts to restart beef exports to Japan following a case of mad cow disease in December 2003, said it believes the beef industry remains months away from any meaningful exports to the Far East.

Source: Company Release