Here at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about preparing fresh, whole foods in our own kitchens and buying ingredients instead of prepared dishes. We know that shopping the perimeter aisles of our grocery stores gives us a head start on healthier eating and we avoid those center aisles where boxes and cans take up shelf space. Tyson is one of the brands we’d find living in those aisles … it’s one of the brands that symbolizes the prepared foods we’re making every effort to avoid. So the news about Tyson closing two plants citing aging facilities and the vague “changing product needs” can easily lead us to believe that the decision may certainly be grounded in decreasing demand from the center aisles.
Tyson Foods Inc. announced plans to close the company’s prepared foods facilities in Jefferson, Wis., and Chicago. Production at the plants will cease Oct. 1, 2016, during the second half of the company’s fiscal year. Tyson said the plant closings will enable the company to transfer production to some of its other prepared foods operations.
Tyson attributed the closings to a combination of factors, including changing product needs and the age of both facilities. The company added that the costs to renovate the facilities were prohibitive. The distance of the Chicago plant from its raw material supply also was a factor.
“We examined many options before we turned down this road,” said Donnie King, president of North American operations. “This affects the lives of our team members and their families, making it a very difficult decision. But after long and careful consideration, we’ve determined we can better serve our customers by shifting production and equipment to more modern and efficient locations.”
Consumer demand drives many of the decisions coming from food giants like Tyson. Consumer voices have driven big manufacturers to drop the use of controversial ingredients from popular products, discontinue the use of genetically modified ingredients and create healthier product lines. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a plants manufacturing processed foods (whether for consumer, deli or hospitality purposes) might be losing ground in a marketplace increasingly made up of more educated and conscious consumers.
While those center aisles are still heavily populated with boxes, cans, bags and jars, the consumers shopping those aisles are lessening in numbers. This news from Tyson may not be associated with changing attitudes and lifestyles, we feel pretty positive that it’s not the only news we’ll be getting from big food manufacturers regarding a decreasing need for processing plants.