Smithfield Foods staying in Smithfield, says CEO
Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2015
As one of — if not the major example of continued growth in Isle of Wight County — Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope assured the audience at the State of the County breakfast on Thursday that the company is not going anywhere else. He was referring to the food industry’s sale to WH Group from China nearly two years ago. One of the concerns then was that Smithfield Foods would move its operation overseas. But the company is staying put.
“It’s the same old Smithfield Foods…but better,” Pope said, adding that mostly the same people are running the company. Although, they do have a representative from WH Group present, who he called “Hank,” because of the complex spelling and pronunciation of the name.
Pope said that 2014 was a record year, with $15 billion in sales, and $550 million after taxes.
“China eats one half of pork produced in the world, and Smithfield Foods is tapped in,” he said. “The people in China trust our product; some better than their own.”
Further, he said the company is the largest-growing food package company in the world, going past Hershey’s and Pepsi, as just two of many examples.
Pillars of doing business include: “Focusing on our people; being Smithfield-centric; customer-focused; taking risk; and not just being the biggest, but the best. That’s what we know.”
“We product good food seriously,” he continued. “We can never make a mistake. I appreciate the county allowing us to quietly go about our business.”
As for physical growth of the company, Pope mentioned the possibility of expanding the Smithfield Foods office space, but there are no firm plans as yet.