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Changes at Tyson plant announced

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The product mix at the Tyson Foods Inc. fresh plant in Wilkesboro (North Carolina, USA) will be changed starting next month to increase efficiency and improve customer service. As a result in about 75 people temporarily will lose their current jobs.
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Currently, over two-thirds of chickens processed at the fresh plant weigh 2.7 kg and less than a third weigh 1,7 kg. The larger birds are processed for sale as fresh chicken in supermarket meat cases, while the smaller ones go to fast food restaurants.

"We've decided to shift the fast food production to another Tyson plant, enabling our Wilkesboro operation to increase retail fresh chicken production" for supermarkets, said Gary Mickelson, director of media relations for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson.

From the last week of January, the fresh plant in Wilkesboro will only process the larger chickens that are sold in supermarket meat cases.

Mickelson said that while equipment changes are made at the fresh plant to accommodate this shift, a portion of the plant’s operations with about 75 jobs would be shut down. He said this would be from the last week of January through early May, with laid off fresh plant going back to work the first week of May if they haven’t already returned in other jobs.

About 2,700 people work at the Wilkesboro complex, making Tyson the largest employer in Wilkes County. Tyson also is the county’s largest taxpayer.

Among about 410 Tyson contract broiler farms with about 1,000 chicken houses in Wilkes and other area counties that raise birds for the Wilkesboro complex, said Mickelson, some would need to convert their chicken houses for production of the larger birds as part of the change.
 

by Natalie Berkhout

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