Tyson Foods Beefs Up Nebraska Processing Plant

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., a subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, is making a multimillion-dollar upgrade to its beef plant in Dakota City, Neb.

The improvements to Tyson's largest beef-processing complex will allow the plant to increase slaughter capacity and add about 200 jobs, but may lead to the closure of the company's small beef plant in Denison, Iowa, Tyson said in a news release Thursday.

The Dakota City project includes construction of a new beef slaughter floor and improvements to the beef carcass cooler, rendering and box handling operations. Work is expected to be completed in mid-2013.

Because of the ability to process more cattle, the plant, which employs about 4,000, won't need beef carcasses supplied by the Denison facility. That plant, which employs about 400, may close sometime next year.

In other Tyson-related news, COO Jim Lochner said at Thursday's Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2012 Global Agriculture Conference the amount of protein available to U.S. consumers has declined in recent years and that trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

"We are operating in a different world than we were a few years ago," Lochner said, according to a GlobeNewswire report. "After decades of steady growth, U.S. per capita consumption of protein declined 11 percent from the peak in 2006, a trend that is likely to continue."

The report also credited Lochner with saying strong export demand and pressures of profitability of livestock and poultry farming has contributed to declines in U.S. availability. Still, Lochner said Tyson is committed to growing the business of its customers.

"Tyson has a broad portfolio of products that can help our customers grow," Lochner said. "We don't just sell meat in a box. We provide innovation and food solutions to our customers and consumers, and that is what differentiates us from our competitors."