Editor Joel Crews (left) presents the Operations Executive of the Year to Paul Kafer of Smithfield.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The publishing team at MEAT+POULTRY is proud to recognize Paul Kafer, vice president of engineering with Smithfield, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc. as its 2017 Operations Executive of the Year. Kafer is the sixth recipient of the honor, which is awarded to an individual in an operations and engineering role in the meat and poultry processing industry “in recognition of a career dedicated to pursuing operational excellence and providing leadership while delivering innovative solutions.”

M+P Editor, Joel Crews, recently presented the award to Kafer at the Smithfield headquarters. M+P will spotlight Kafer’s career and achievements in a cover story in its July issue.

Kafer has been a part of Smithfield since the pork giant acquired North Side Foods in 1998, where he was hired as a plant manager in 1997 by the company, which was a major supplier of pork to McDonald’s Corp. During his time at North Side, Kafer led the company’s adoption of automation technology and implementing more efficient packaging solutions. Since then, Kafer has advanced through the ranks at Smithfield and was integral in the construction of Smithfield’s Kinston, Virginia, plant that opened in 2006. Since the acquisition of Smithfield by China’s WH Group in 2013, Kafer and his engineering team led the construction process of an American-style pork-processing plant in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou. The two-and-a-half-year project culminated with the grand opening in December 2015. Kafer considers this project a crowning achievement in his career given the logistical challenges of duplicating a US plant in a foreign country.

“Paul’s innovative approach to his job throughout his career and his ability to successfully lead teams to accomplish goals and complete major projects make him the ideal recipient of MEAT+POULTRY’s Operations Executive Award for 2017,” Crews said. “We are proud to recognize Paul and his entire team at Smithfield.”