Smithfield CEO surprised by reaction to China sale

Smithfield Foods (WAVY File Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Pork producer Smithfield Foods’ CEO says he was taken aback by some of the reactions when the Virginia-based company agreed to be acquired by a Chinese firm last year.

Larry Pope spoke Thursday at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond.

Smithfield Foods was acquired in September by a company that runs China’s biggest meat processor in a deal valued at $7.1 billion.

Smithfield’s brands include Armour, Farmland and its namesake. It’s the world’s largest pork processor.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Pope joked that even his own mother, on the day the deal was announced, asked him in disbelief why he was “selling to the communists.”

Pope said future profitability of agriculture will depend on exports and he thinks globalization is good for America.

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