Smithfield Foods still ‘rendering’ pet food

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

When Smithfield Foods announced in July it would end slaughtering and pet food production at its hometown meatpacking plants, the word on the street was that the associated meaty smell that occasionally permeates the air in town would also go away.

But it hasn’t, and as it turns out, neither have the company’s pet food operations, which were slated to end in August.

“We are still rendering,” company spokesman Jim Monroe confirmed to The Smithfield Times by phone on Nov. 1.

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The term “rendering,” according to the National Renderers Association, refers to a process of repurposing fats and protein left over from the meatpacking process into a number of uses, including paints, soaps, varnishes, cosmetics, explosives, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals, leather, textiles, lubricants, feed for livestock and pet food.

Smithfield had planned to cease its local pet food operations in August, the same month as its planned end to slaughtering operations in town.

The slaughtering has indeed stopped, but “there’s been a delay in our transition of rendering to another location,” Monroe stated.

He did not go into details as to the nature of the delay. The plan, as the company’s chief administrative officer, Keira Lombardo, described to the Times in July, was to consolidate Smithfield’s pet food business into one centralized facility in Orange City, Iowa. The move was to have resulted in 59 layoffs, according to an online Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice published to the Virginia Employment Commission’s website in June.

Monroe was not able to provide details on a new timeline for the move.