The Smithfield Packing Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., announced that it would shift production from its Portsmouth, Va. plant to Kinston, N.C., and permanently close the Portsmouth facility in early 2013. The Portsmouth plant produces hot dogs and lunchmeat.

The Portsmouth plant closure will affect approximately 425 hourly and salaried employees. Transfers to other facilities will be offered to some employees and the company will negotiate with union officials regarding potential opportunities related to this transition.

"We deeply regret having to close this facility. We recognize that layoffs and plant closings are difficult for everyone concerned. But at the same time, we believe this is a necessary business decision. We are committed to our workforce and will work diligently to transfer as many employees as possible to our other operations in North Carolina and Virginia," said Tim Schellpeper, president of Smithfield Packing.

The company will comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), and will provide employees with a 90-day notification of the plant closure. Under the WARN Act, the company also will notify state dislocated worker units so that they can promptly offer dislocated worker assistance.

"The Portsmouth facility was constructed in the 1970s and, after a thorough analysis, it was determined that the plant cannot support the changes in manufacturing technology and product development necessary to meet our needs. While this was a difficult decision, this change will improve the overall efficiency of our company and enable us to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products," said Schellpeper.

Source: Smithfield Packing Co.