Smithfield says Illinois hog plant shut down after fire

Chicago | Reuters — Smithfield Foods on Tuesday said a hog slaughterhouse in western Illinois will be operational as soon as possible after a fire halted pork production on Monday.

“(The) cause of the fire is being investigated,” Smithfield spokeswoman Kathleen Kirkham said, adding that there were no injuries in the fire that occurred in a rendering section of the facility at Monmouth, about 300 km west of Chicago.

Smithfield says it is the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor.

The company’s Farmland Foods plant in Monmouth can process more than 10,000 hogs per day, accounting for only a small percentage of total U.S. hog slaughter capacity of more than 440,000 hogs per day, according to industry data.

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With the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasting record-large U.S. hog supplies this year, any prolonged outage would likely back up supplies and weigh on prices. Chicago Mercantile Exchange October lean hogs fell 2.3 per cent to US59.325 cents/lb., with losses partially tied to the Smithfield outage, traders said.

One hog dealer said the fire damaged refrigeration lines for coolers at the plant. Another dealer said the facility likely will not be accepting hogs for at least two days.

Reporting for Reuters by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago.

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