Meat giant Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest producer of meat from cows, pigs, and chickens, has announced the closure of four of its chicken plants following a decline in demand for some of its products. It will close meatpacker facilities in Arkansas, Indiana, and Missouri, apparently to cut costs after it already closed two further plants in Virginia and Arkansas earlier this year.
According to Reuters, the four facilities closing represent 10% of its chicken slaughter facilities. Tyson’s CFO said in an interview, “These moves are difficult certainly. For the long term of Tyson, this is a move that should allow us to be better, more efficient and serve our customers better.”
Tyson posted a loss of $97 million in the three months before 1st April 2023. This was its first quarterly loss since 2009. This may have been caused by rising costs of production in the meat industry as a whole, as chicken feed has increased in price by $145 million.
Although it is tempting to see this as the result of an increase in the number of vegans in the US, in reality, this is more likely a business strategy aimed to kill more chickens and spending less money doing it. It may also be a worse step for the chickens if they end up in more cramped conditions if fewer facilities are used to process more animals. The US production of birds for food has expanded from 2022 to 2023, and around nine billion chickens are killed each year, the vast majority kept in factory farms in horrible conditions.
Recently, an investigation by the US animal protection organisation Animal Outlook of a Virginia chicken breeding facility that produced birds for Tyson Foods was made public. An undercover investigator worked in the chicken facility for more than two months. Animal Outlook claimed that there was enough evidence to prosecute Tyson. The video showed birds with hideous lesions and severe deformities.