Smithfield Foods, Inc. is a well-known meat processing company which was initially established in 1936 in Smithfield, Virginia, as the Smithfield Packing Company. Joseph W. Luter and his son were the founders of this company. The company is famous due to its largest pig and pork production all over the world. The company owns more than 500 farms in the United States, as well as more than 2000 other independent farms, are working all around the country to grow Smithfield pigs. The company also has its branches in Mexico, Poland, Romania, UK, and Germany, outside the U.S.
Acquisition by WH China
In 2013, the famous WH Group of China purchased Smithfield Foods $4.72 billion which was even more than its market value of that time. After the acquisition of Smithfield, the WH Group is standing in the list of largest overseas owners of American farmland. The company is providing employment to large no of peoples. According to Wikipedia, in 2016 Smithfield had 50,200 employees in the United States, Mexico, and Europe, and an annual revenue of $14 billion.
In 2012, Smithfield Foods had open a restaurant “Taste of Smithfield” in the same building with its retail store at the main street. Now, in 2017, the company has a range of available brands such as Armour, Healthy Ones, Crook’s, Curly’s, Eckrich, Farmland, Smithfield and many more.
In 1990, it started buying pig farming operations and made itself a vertically integrated company. By these wisely taken steps, the company made a huge growth rate during 1990 to 2005. The vertical integration gives a lot to Smithfield Foods as it allows the company to control the full process stages of Pig production from birth, to slaughter, processing and packing.
The founder of this Company said that the vertical integration helps to produce high-quality products. In 1990, The company obtained the rights to the genetic lines of 2000 pigs Britain’s National Pig Development Company. These pigs were used to create Smithfield Lean Generation Pork which had got certification from the American Heart Association for its low fats, minerals, and cholesterol.
Housing and Pregnant Sows
The pigs are placed together in identical sheds with metal roofs and that sheds are called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Pregnant sows are shifted to gestation crates which are too small and even does not allow them to turn around. After giving birth, they are shifted to farrowing crates for three weeks and after artificial insemination, they are moved back to gestation crates. This process is criticised by animal welfare groups MacDonald’s and supermarket chains. Almost half of the sows grow in the contact farms of the company.
However, the company faces several cases of criticism. As Wikipedia says, “In 2010 a jury in Jackson County, Missouri, awarded 13 plaintiffs $825,000 each against a Smithfield subsidiary, Premium Standard. Two other plaintiffs were awarded $250,000 and $75,000. The plaintiffs argued that they were unable to enjoy their property because of the smell coming from the Smithfield facilities”.