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    Tyson Cuts Staff by 850 as Meat Sales Slump

    SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Amid weak demand for poultry and an overall protein glut that resulted in a $127 million loss last quarter, Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat company based here, is laying off 850 workers to help cut costs by at least $200 million amid sluggish sales.

    SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Amid weak demand for poultry and an overall protein glut that resulted in a $127 million loss last quarter, Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat company based here, is laying off 850 workers to help cut costs by at least $200 million amid sluggish sales.

    Tyson said it will eliminate 420 jobs and 430 open positions by the end of 2006, as part of an effort to cut $200 million in spending--a goal that is substantially higher than the $110 million in savings pledged just this past May its by new chief executive Richard L. Bond.

    The company said management will bear the brunt of the 420 existing jobs to be eliminated. It said 40 contracts with outside consultants will also be eliminated. Hourly plant production employees will not be affected, Tyson added.

    The company said the measures, which will also involve additional cutbacks with recruiting, travel, and other areas, should be in place by the end of the calendar year, with most of the layoffs expected to be completed by Sept. 30, the end of its fiscal year.

    Tyson also said that going forward, it will apply greater focus on value-added products, international expansion, and operational efficiencies.

    Meanwhile, citing personal reasons, Bob Corscadden, Tyson's s.v.p. and c.m.o., said late last week he would retire effective July 20, after 14 years of service to the company. "While I appreciate all the support I've received and especially the people of this company, I have some other goals and have made a personal decision to pursue them," Corscadden said in a statement.

    Tyson said marketing v.p. Sue Quillin will assume Corscadden's responsibilities. Quillin has been with the company since 1994, and recently has been overseeing the branding, advertising, and market research teams.

    In other meat industry news, Pilgrim's Pride Corp. said its poultry processing facility in Timberville, Va., will close every other Friday for the balance of 2006. The first such "skip day" shutdown will be July 28, affecting 600 employees.

    "Poultry in the United States has had a hard time this year," Gary Rhodes, Pilgrim's Pride's v.p. of corporate communications told the Associated Press. "There's been a very weak demand in the export market because of fears of avian flu."

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