Retail | Wholesale | Food | Beverage 2023: SHANE SMITH
PRESIDENT AND CEO, SMITHFIELD FOODS, SMITHFIELD
Smith became CEO of Smithfield Foods in 2021, just as Smithfield, the world’s largest pork product manufacturer and hog producer, said it would end slaughter operations in its hometown of Smithfield, the country’s self-proclaimed “ham capital.”
Now, Smith is trying to navigate tricky financial waters as conservative politicians have been talking tough about Chinese holdings in the U.S. Smithfield was acquired in 2013 by Hong Kong-based WH Group, a situation that has flared into controversy due to legislators’ concern over potential Chinese ownership of U.S. agriculture land and control of U.S. pork production. Smith has responded that WH Group’s ownership has benefited the U.S. by helping Smithfield hire more American workers. It now employs 40,000 U.S. workers, some 37,000 more than a decade ago.
Although Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation this year that lets the state declare “void” any purchase of farmland by a “foreign government or nongovernment person” considered a U.S. adversary, Youngkin’s office said that Smithfield Foods is not impacted.
A graduate of the University of Mount Olive and William & Mary, Smith started his career at Smithfield in 2003 as a financial analyst.