Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest pork processor, reportedly suspended slaughter on March 14 at its largest pork processing facility in Tar Heel, N.C., because of the spread of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, which has tightened hog supplies, according to a Reuters report.

The pork processing facility reduced its slaughter schedule to four days from five days, said the sources cited in the Reuters report who have knowledge of the plant's operations and hog purchases. They requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The move follows days of market talk about U.S. pork processors cutting back working days because of reduced supplies, a measure that reflects the growing damage caused by the virus.

Smithfield Foods, acquired last September by China's Shuanghui International, says it does not comment on daily operations, minor disruptions and openings or closings of processing plants. It is not clear how long the company will adhere to the shortened slaughter schedule. Smithfield Foods may also reduce operations at its plant in Clinton, N.C., the sources say.