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A package of Tyson Foods Inc. chicken is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tyson Foods will close two chicken plants in May, affecting nearly 1,700 employees.

“While the decision was not easy, it reflects our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing full available capacity at each plant,” Tyson said in a statement to CNBC.

In its latest quarter, Tyson’s chicken business underperformed expectations as its operating income was halved compared with the year-ago period.

The company’s plants in Van Buren, Arkansas, and Glen Allen, Virginia, will close May 12. Demand will be shifted to other Tyson facilities. The Wall Street Journal first reported the upcoming closures.

Tyson said it is helping affected employees apply for open jobs and offering relocation assistance to other plants. The Glen Allen plant has 692 employees, while the Van Buren facility has 969 workers.

The meat giant is the latest food supplier to lay off workers in an effort to cut costs.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both of which make alternative meats, have cut more than a fifth of their workforces as demand wanes for their products and the companies look to conserve cash. Coca-Cola offered voluntary buyouts to North American workers, while PepsiCo cut jobs in its Frito-Lay and North American beverage units. Spice giant McCormick said it would offer buyouts and lay off workers as part of a plan to save $75 million.

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