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Seaboard Triumph Foods Will Process 21,000 Hogs Daily at Full Capacity

The pork industry is about to get a very hungry new pork consumer. It comes in the form of a new, state-of-the-art packing plant in Sioux City, Iowa.

This plant, which will need 21,000 market-size hogs every day when it hits full stride, is the $300 million joint-venture investment of two Pork Powerhouses, Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods. Sitting on the west side of Sioux City, the new plant will be almost 1 million square feet and will attract hogs primarily from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. It will also attract a new workforce of about 1,000 people by the end of 2017; this number could be more than 2,000 by the end of 2018 when the second shift is up and running.

At that point, the chain speed maxes out at 1,106 head per hour, the most allowed by federal regulation.

To be truthful, the new plant won’t be out looking to buy 21,000 hogs on the open market on day one. It will take a few months of gearing up to get to one-shift capacity of 10,000 hogs a day. A second shift probably won’t come on until late 2018.

And, about two thirds of the hogs will come from Seaboard and Triumph hog farms. The other one third will be bought on the open market from other pork producers, which the new entity is already in the process of lining up.

Officials from Seaboard Triumph Foods (the name of the joint venture) shared the latest news about the project at a press conference during World Pork Expo. Mark Campbell, the CEO of Triumph Foods, said the first hogs should go through the plant in September. And, he said, it will feature some of the newest technology in the packing industry – full ultrasonics of every carcass, the latest robotics for evisceration and fabrication, seven unloading docks for hogs, and 31 outlet docks for fresh pork cuts. The waste treatment system is fully enclosed and will recover methane for powering the plant.

Mark Porter, COO of Seaboard Triumph Foods, said the company is working with Sioux City and other surrounding communities to recruit workers. They’re trying to get the area upgraded to designation as a primary refugee resettlement community to bring potential new workers to town. Because Seaboard and Triumph already have their own existing hog packing plants in Guymon, Oklahoma, and St. Joseph, Missouri, respectively, they will probably bring in workers from those plants to get started and train.

Porter said wages will be competitive for the area, starting at no lower than $15 an hour. And, he added, “We expect the new plant will raise hog prices for all producers.”

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