PONCA CITY, OKLA. — Tyson Foods, Inc. said it will close its Ponca City processed meats plant and shift production to other facilities in Buffalo, N.Y.; Cherokee, Iowa; and Houston. The plant, has been in operation since 1995 and produces approximately 1.2 million lbs. of sliced deli meat per week, in addition to a variety of ham products. Libby Lawson, a Tyson spokesperson, told MEATPOULTRY.com "the deli meats side of the business is quite a bit better," which is why that portion of the operations will continue to be produced at other facilities.

Ms. Lawson also said the plant is for sale. "We are in active discussion with a number of potential buyers," she said, but no deals have been made and there is no timeline for selling the facility.

"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 maintains several other operations in Oklahoma, including feed mills, growout facilities, hatcheries and a further processing facility in Broken Bow.

The closing, which will affect approximately 580 people, will begin in late May but most likely will not be completed until July or August, Tyson said.

The company said it plans to record a non-cash charge of approximately 2c per share related to the closing in the second quarter of fiscal 2009.

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