Smithfield Foods to close Portsmouth plant, affecting 425 workers

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Smithfield Foods Inc. said Thursday it plans to close its Portsmouth plant and move production to its Kinston, N.C., facility, affecting 425 hourly and salaried employees.

The pork and packaged meats producer says the plant, which produces hot dogs and lunchmeat, will close by early 2013.

Transfers to other facilities will be offered to some employees.

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

Schellpeper said the Portsmouth facility, which was built in the 1970s, could not support changes in manufacturing technology and product development needed for the company.

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