Tyson: There’s been no need to depopulate flocks to date

The COVID-19 pandemic has not had a substantial impact on contract growers for Tyson Foods, CEO Noel White said, and to date, none of the company’s flocks have had to be depopulated.

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Yurii Bukhanovskyi, Bigstock
Yurii Bukhanovskyi, Bigstock

The COVID-19 pandemic has not had a substantial impact on contract growers for Tyson Foods, CEO Noel White said, and to date, none of the company’s flocks have had to be depopulated.

White explained the situation on May 4 during a conference call with reporters.

While the company’s pork and beef segments have been hit pretty hard with disruptions to plant operations due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among plant workers, White said the situation has been less severe for Tyson Foods’ poultry plants. He said particularly for those in Arkansas, the disruption has been minimal, and “the rest of our poultry plants outside this specific region have seen some impact, but not significant.”

And to date, while there have been other broiler companies that were put in a position to cull some flocks, Tyson Foods has not had to do so.

“We are still placing birds,” White said. “We have slowed down the growth rate of the birds, but we’ve not been forced to euthanize or dispose of any chickens at this point.”

Among Tyson Foods’ poultry plants to be the most impacted by COVID-19 include its plant in Robards, Kentucky, which has operations suspended April 30-May 3 to undergo additional cleaning and sanitation efforts after employees at the plant tested positive for COVID-19. The company’s poultry plant in Camilla, Georgia, also had multiple cases of employees with COVID-19, including four deaths related to the disease. At the time those cases were reported in mid-April, the plant continued to operate with additional worker health and safety measures in place.

Financial results

The conference call was held on the same day when Tyson Foods announced its earnings for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020.

For the quarter, Tyson Foods saw its net income decline from $430 million for the second quarter of 2019 to $367 million for the most recent quarter. The company’s chicken segment saw its operating income drop from $141 million to $99 million on a year-over-year basis. Net income for its beef, pork and prepared foods segments also dropped, but its international segment went from an operating loss of $7 million to an operating income of $9 million.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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