Company added one production line, 16 jobs

Tyson beefs up Emporia facility, slims down inefficient capacity

By Heidi Parsons contact

- Last updated on GMT

Determined to run leaner this year, Tyson is reallocating manufacturing capacity.
Determined to run leaner this year, Tyson is reallocating manufacturing capacity.

Related tags: Beef

Tyson Foods has begun the New Year by getting its manufacturing operations in shape. The US’s second-largest food processor recently concluded a line expansion at its prepared foods plant in Emporia, Kansas and put its Buffalo, New York facility up for sale. 

The expansion at Emporia, which cost approximately $3m, created an additional line that will produce a product for a national foodservice customer. About 16 jobs were created as a result.

“The Emporia plant was a good candidate for the expansion due to its existing product mix,”​ Tyson public relations manager Worth Sparkman told FoodProductionDaily.

The facility is one of Tyson Foods’ specialty meat plants; it produces value-added raw cuts of beef, pork and chicken for foodservice and retail customers — both branded and private label. Raw materials are supplied by Tyson’s beef, pork and poultry harvesting facilities.

Capacity, not size

The project consisted of building a new room to house the line, modifications to existing refrigeration and the installation of equipment. Sparkman clarified that the project was completed within the plant’s existing footprint.

Besides its existing product mix and the space to increase production capacity without the expense of adding square footage, the Emporia facility had another advantage: state tax credits.

To assist with the expansion, the Kansas Department of Commerce helped provide qualified tax credits for new capital investment and training credits to help the company build and maintain its workforce.

Tyson Foods took over the Emporia plant as part of its 2001 acquisition of IBP, Inc. IBP had purchased the facility from Armour & Co. in 1967. After extensive renovations, it started up in May 1969.

Tyson converted the plant into a specialty meats facility in 2008 and today about 950 people work there. Payroll for fiscal 2013 was more than $31.5m.

A white elephant in Buffalo

Following through on a plan it launched last summer to improve the performance of its prepared foods business, Tyson ceased operations at its Buffalo, New York facility on January 3. The plant employed nearly 300 people.

Sparkman said the building, which still contains some refrigeration equipment, is being listed for sale. “The bulk of our distribution network is based in the central US, so having this facility so far away added a great deal of transportation cost,” ​he added.

This is the second of three planned manufacturing facility closings. Tyson shuttered its Cherokee, Iowa plant last September, and intends to close its Santa Teresa, New Mexico, facility during the first half of 2015. The Cherokee plant employed 450 people, and approximately 200 people work at the Santa Teresa facility.

The closures will enable the company to use more of the available production capacity at some of its other prepared foods plants, according to a Tyson news release.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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