Meat+Poultry - February 2021 - 8

C O M M E N TA R Y

Optimistic investments
Right out of the gate, the meat and
poultry processing industry has
shown many signs of moving into 2021
aggressively and putting last year in
the proverbial rearview mirror. With
COVID-19 vaccine distribution now
gaining positive momentum after a
slow end-of-the-year start, a quick
review of the past month's headlines
reflects the willingness of processors to
invest in the future of the industry.
In January alone, news of
multimillion dollar new plant
projects and expansion plans point
to processors' confidence looking
forward, as many are putting their
money where their mask-covered
mouths are.
The projects provide a glimpse
of what everyone hopes will be
better months ahead, but also what
is trending in the meat processing
industry, including sustainability,
employee well-being in the postCOVID-19 era, growing demand for
plant-based meat alternatives and the
continued growth in the pet food and
bacon segments.
One of the most recent examples
came in late January, from Abel
Olivera, chief executive officer of
Jensen Meat Co., who said its new $3.5
million, 30,000-square-foot plant-based

food processing facility, which is
slated to start up in April, is a solution
for an emerging market in need of a
co-packing source. He also said the
plant's production will address hunger
by producing affordable, nutritious
food and feature solar power and
LED lighting.
Mississauga, Ontario-based
Maple Leaf Foods also announced in
January it was investing more than
$100 million to convert an existing
facility in Indianapolis to a plant-based
processing facility expected to be
running by early 2022.
Recognizing the continued meteoric
popularity of bacon, Springdale, Ark.based Tyson Foods Inc. started 2021
by announcing a $26 million expansion
of its Wright Brand Bacon production
plant in Vernon, Texas. Completion of
the project is expected by next month,
resulting in increased capacity and
adding 30-plus new jobs.
Meanwhile, Garner, NC-based
Butterball started the year announcing
its investment in two turkey processing
plants in Arkansas that are being
renovated as part of a combined $8.7
million project. Enhancements to
employee-gathering areas are part of
the expansion plans as are equipment
upgrades, adding cold storage space
and modifying production lines.
Approximately 360 jobs will be added
as a result of the improvements.
Koch Foods, Park Ridge, Ill., also

announced in January its plans to
proceed with a $16 million expansion
project at its poultry processing
plant in Gadsden, Ala. The company
is increasing its capacity to meet
growing demand with the planned
improvements, which will add about
135 jobs at the plant over the next
three years.
Meat processing for pet food
continues to be a growing segment
of the industry, as evident from last
month's news that Mars Petcare is
investing $145 million to expand its
existing wet pet food facility in Fort
Smith, Ark. The expansion, which is
slated for completion in 2022, will
add more than 200,000 square feet to
facilitate two additional production
lines and add about 100 jobs. Another
pet food project announced last month
came from Abilene, Texas-based
Prairie Dog Pet Products, which has
committed $18 million to improve
its equipment and facilities in 2021.
The company's improvements
include increasing production and
adding new equipment and food
safety interventions.
This past year, the leaders of the
industry's processing companies
passed the agility test with nimble
responses to the pandemic. Many have
not lost sight of the opportunities
ahead. Investing in growth and staying
ahead of trends is the next step.
J O E L C R E WS, E D I TO R | j c r e w s @ s o s l a n d .c o m

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Meat+Poultry - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - February 2021

Meat+Poultry - February 2021 - 1
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