Turkey giant Butterball to exit pork business, cut 600 jobs

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Butterball LLC, the Garner-based company best known for its turkey food products, announced to its 600 employees at its lone pork producing plant in Montgomery, Illinois, that it will be shutting the plant down in July.

Butterball had acquired the plant in 2012 from Gusto Packing Co. for the purpose of expanding its processing capacity and the geographic expansion of the Butterball brand. But in a statement from Butterball Chief Operating Officer Jay Jandrain on May 18, he said the decision to close the plant was made to “meet evolving consumer and customer needs and to address changes in market conditions.”

A company spokeswoman further explained that weakness in the raw material commodity markets for pork products and the company’s lack of vertical integration at the pork plant led to the financial decision to close.

Following the closure of the Gusto plant on July 17, Butterball will exit the pork business for both branded and private label products. In Montgomery, which is about 45 miles west of Chicago, Gusto had produced six product lines, including bank, bone-in smoked pork, smoked boneless hams, cooked campus, spiral sliced hams and deli meats.

“We are committed to retaining as many of our Montgomery employees as possible, and are committed to offering relocation assistance to any of our team members who have an interest in staying with the company and accept an available position at another location,” Jandrain stated.

Butterball operates six other processing plants in North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri. The company ranks as the largest producer of turkey products with more than 1 billion pounds of turkey sold each year.

Jandrain added that the company will also be working with leaders in the Montgomery community to help identify outplacement and retraining opportunities for its affected employees, as well as assist local and state economic development agencies to find a buyer for the facility.

Butterball is co-owned by Kansas-based Seaboard Corp. (NYSE: SEB) and Maxwell Farms, a privately held North Carolina company.


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