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Increased supplies may test slaughter capacity this fall

US - Expected record-large hog supplies could challenge packers' ability to process the animals for at least a few weeks later this year, with no increases in slaughtering capacity seen likely soon.
calendar icon 7 August 2007
clock icon 1 minute read

There has been considerable speculation among some analysts and livestock market managers that the John Morrell pork plant in Sioux City, Iowa, would add back the second-shift operation some time this fall due to the seasonal trend of larger supply.

However, Keira Ullrich, a spokeswoman for Smithfield Foods (SFD), which owns Morrell, told Dow Jones Newswires that "the second shift will not be added back at this time." Smithfield Foods is the nation's largest hog producer and pork processor.

Back in February, the company cited poor market conditions as the reason for dropping the night-shift operation. In a Feb. 8 release, the firm said with the shutdown of the night shift, the plant would process approximately 7,000 hogs a day.

Industry analysts said at that time that the plant's daily capacity prior to the layoff of the second shift was about 14,500 head, and concluded that each shift could process approximately 7,000 head.

Joseph Sebring, president of John Morrell, said at the time, "We hope to resume second-shift operations when market conditions become more favorable."

Source: Agriculture Online