Reuters – Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, has stopped slaughtering pigs in the United States’ so-called ham capital, where the company was founded 85 years ago.
The end of slaughtering in Smithfield, Virginia, is the latest reconfiguration for the company’s namesake plant and follows a months-long internal review of its East Coast operations, Smithfield Foods said in a statement.
The company, owned by Hong Kong-listed WH Group, is shifting slaughtering to some of its 47 other U.S. facilities and spending $5 million to upgrade the Virginia plant to produce more packaged bacon, ham and other pork products, said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer.
Smithfield, Virginia, is a tourist destination based on its history as Smithfield Foods’ hometown and boasts a museum featuring the world’s oldest ham.
The company retooled the plant in 2019 to ship hog carcasses to China, the world’s top pork consumer, and again last year to supply more pork to U.S. customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. meat companies came under scrutiny during the pandemic as plant workers got sick and died, and slaughterhouse shutdowns highlighted supply chain vulnerabilities.