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Top 9 Meat Packing Plants in the U.S.

Posted by IndustrySelect on Thursday, May 13, 2021

woman processes chicken in factory


Meatpacking plants fall under the agricultural sector in the U.S. economy. The sector as a whole contributed more than $1 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2019. The food manufacturing portion accounted for 2 million jobs, with meat and poultry manufacturing comprising about 1/3 of these positions. U.S. beef exports are up 3.5% in 2021, with the nation exporting 795 million pounds of beef so far in 2021

Market Challenges


The pandemic hit the meat packing industry particularly hard, with 50,000 COVID-19 cases and 248 worker deaths tied to the industry. Folllowing a number of plant closings at the height of the pandemic, the meat packing industry has largely regained its footing. Meat packing operations retooled their facilities considerably, with many installing Plexiglas barriers between workers and had staff working in staggered shifts so that social distancing could be maintained. Yet, some reports find the industry still struggles with lingering infections amongst its workforce, despite the ongoing vaccination effort, while another report from the North American Meat Institute finds that COVID-19 cases amongst meat packing workers is 60% lower than the general population.  

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Labor Shortages & Supply Chain

Adding to the growing list of shortages plaguing the supply chain, from semiconductors to steel, lumber and even ketchup, a chicken shortage is now hitting the market. Surging demand for  fried chicken sandwiches and chicken wings has created a windfall for chicken producers in 2021. Pilgrim's Pride reported a 50% increase in profits this quarter, and other major chicken producers are expected to report similar windfalls. Yet keeping up with demand is challenging given a persisten labor shortage in the industry. 

Meanwhile, a report from Reuters finds that Tyson Chicken is struggling with chicken production after the company introduced a new type of rooster that results in fewer hatched eggs

Meatpacking Industry Statistics

According to data collected by MNI, as of May 2021, the U.S. meatpacking industry accounts for 2,261 companies nationwide, employing 200,522 individuals. 

The most recent sales figures in meatpacking average $147 billion with 90% of the finished product distributed domestically. Manufacturing as the whole relies on only 70% of domestic distribution.

Regionally, the Midwest holds the highest concentration of meatpacking manufacturers, at 45% of the total. The Southern region follows at a distant second with 28% of the total number of meatpacking manufacturers. The Northeast and the West trail with 11% and 16% respectively.

Top U.S. Meatpacking Plants

Below is a list of the largest U.S. meatpacking facilities based on number of employees. 

CompanyCityState Number of Employees
Smithfield Foods, Inc.Tar HeelNC5,000
Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.AmarilloTX4,200
Tyson Fresh MeatsAmarilloTX4,000
Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.Dakota CityNE4,000
Cargill, Inc.WayzataMN3,500
JBSGrand IslandNE3,500
JBS USAGreeleyCO3,200
Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.HolcombKS3,100
National Beef Packing Co., LLCDodge CityKS3,000

About the Top Meatpacking Plants

Smithfield Foods, Inc., located in Tar Heel, North Carolina, safely employs 5,000 individuals. The company’s aggressive COVID-19 response revolves around keeping their employees safe and securing America’s food supply chain. Smithfield’s commitment to its employees involves recognizing the efforts of one man who received an award for his supply chain initiatives that enabled the company to benefit operationally, economically and sustainably.

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. calls Amarillo, Texas home. The company’s 4,200 employees continue to uphold the core values developed by its founder during the Great Depression – to provide a quality, 100% natural product. Pioneers of poultry supply chain management since the 1960s, Tyson continues the tradition with the Tyson Discovery Center. Here, the company anticipates food trends, creating products to meet customers' culinary needs.

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. in Dakota City, Nebraska employs 4,000 individuals to prepare various packaged products such as fresh chicken, pre-seasoned chicken, meal kits and a number of frozen chicken products.

Cargill, Inc. lists its primary mission as the health and safety of its 3,500 employees and the customers they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with global health experts, Cargill continually upgrades its Wayzata, Minnesota facility to protect its employees and the community at large, including a disaster relief fund to help employees adversely impacted by the pandemic.

JBS in Grand Island, Nebraska and its 3,500 workers produce 1855® and Swift® beef products for domestic use and export to Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, China and other countries. True to JBS’s community commitment, associates are involved in the local United Way and other community benefits.

JBS in Cactus, Texas and its 3,450 associates focus on quality beef manufacturing for 80% domestic and 20% export use. This facility primarily produces the Swift® brand beef products. And just like the Nebraska branch, employees here are also involved in the local United Way and other community programs.

JBS USA in Greeley, Colorado employs 3,200 individuals. This facility also focuses on beef manufacturing, exporting over 30% of its final product to more than 20 different countries worldwide. This facility also participates in community benefit programs.

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. also has a plant located in Holcomb, Kansas. Its 3,100 employees are part of the world’s largest food processing company. As such, Tyson takes sustainability seriously, exploring new avenues of responsible growth to meet the needs of the world’s population.

National Beef Packing Co., LLC, housed in Dodge City, Kansas, is one of the company’s highest-volume plants in the world. The facility’s 3,000 employees only process family-raised, corn-fed Black Angus beef for the meatpacking industry.

Are you looking for industrial sales leads in the meatpacking, food processing or any other type of industry? IndustrySelect provides comprehensive profiles of 500,000 industrial companies and one million executives, including meatpacking companies. Powered by MNI, trusted industrial data compiler since 1912,  company profiles are verfied and updated in real time by a 80-person research team. See a sample profile

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Top Food Manufacturers in the U.S. 

Nine Largest Manufacturers of Food Processing Equipment

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated to reflect new statistics and challenges in the market. 


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