"The times for this company and the future, I think are very bright," Pope said. "It's the same old Smithfield, but better."
Smithfield has said that the buyout and China's growing demand for pork will be a boon for American agriculture and an opportunity to export to new markets. Smithfield's existing management team will remain in place and Shuanghui also will honor labor agreements with Smithfield workers. Shareholders also on Tuesday approved retention bonuses for the company's executives.
The acquisition highlights what could be growing interest in American food by Chinese consumers. Foreign food, such as milk powder from New Zealand and vegetables from neighboring Asian countries, is prized by Chinese consumers because of the frequent domestic food safety scandals.
In one of the most notorious incidents, six babies died and 300,000 were sickened in 2008 from drinking infant formula and other dairy tainted with the industrial chemical melamine. And Shuanghui's reputation was battered in 2011 when state broadcaster CCTV revealed its pork contained clenbuterol -- a banned chemical that makes pork leaner but can be harmful to humans.
Earlier this month, a U.S. committee that reviews mergers between American and overseas companies for national-security implications cleared the deal.
Some U.S. lawmakers have questioned the sale, even convening a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing in July to discuss the deal.
At the time, Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the sale raised many questions, including the impact on food safety and security. She also said the precedent-setting transaction prompts reservations about the government review process of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies.
"Smithfield might be the first acquisition of a major food and agricultural company, but I doubt it will be the last," said Stabenow.