It’s the end of an era in Virginia where Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, stopped slaughtering pigs at its plant in the town of Smithfield where the company was founded 85 years ago.
The company, now owned by WH Group of Hong Kong, plans to shift processing away from the original plant to its other facilities in the U.S. The Virginia plant, which had the capacity to process about 10,000 hogs per day, will be upgraded and repurposed to produce more packaged items, such as bacon and ham.
Smithfield Foods will reassign a portion of the workers within the Virginia facility while others will have positions available at other locations, the company noted.
Initial reaction to the announcement was muted in terms of market impact, as slaughter at the Virginia plant had declined to about 7,000 head per day as hog production on the East Coast decreases. Hogs that were going to the Smithfield plant will simply be moved to other facilities.
Smithfield, Virginia remains a tourist destination as the company’s original hometown and features a museum that reportedly houses the world’s oldest ham.