Smithfield to build $85 million ham plant in North Carolina

by 5m Editor
18 October 2004, at 12:00am

NORTH CAROLINA - Smithfield Packing Company, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc., announced today that it will build an $85 million ham manufacturing plant in Kinston, N.C., that will provide 206 new jobs for Lenoir County residents.

Construction of the new, 180,000-square-foot manufacturing plant is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2005, with completion set for April 2006. The site for the new facility is 90 acres in the Kinston Industrial Park.

North Carolina Governor Mike Easley and officials from Kinston and Lenoir County took part in Smithfield Packing’s groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new plant today.

“Smithfield Packing Company’s decision to build a new manufacturing plant shows that North Carolina is making the right investments in the right places at the right time,“ said Easley. “This announcement is further proof that our aggressive approach to economic development is working.“

The world-class, state-of-the-art Kinston plant will be the most efficient cooked ham plant in the United States, employing the newest technologies available and meeting the highest food standards in the industry, according to the company.

“Once again, North Carolina stepped up to be our partner as we were making decisions about important future investments,“ said Joseph W. Luter, III, chairman and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. “Company officials visited many other locations during their deliberations in selecting a site for the new facility, and the enthusiasm and support of Kinston and Lenoir County representatives made this choice an easy one. Also, our experience with the strong and reliable work force in Kinston was a major factor,“ he said. Smithfield Packing has a meat processing facility in Kinston that has 574 employees.

“This plant and the 206 new jobs that it will create represent not only a major boost for the economy in Kinston and Lenoir County, but also strengthen the economic outlook throughout the state,“ said Timothy A. Seely, president of Smithfield Packing/Gwaltney. “Creating jobs and strengthening the economy is a move in the right direction for all North Carolinians.“

Seely noted that Smithfield Packing “has had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the city of Kinston, and that was certainly one of the key selling points driving our decision to locate our new plant here.“

Seely pointed to Smithfield’s integrated system and said, because of it, Smithfield was able to continue to make substantial investments in North Carolina. “Murphy-Brown, the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods headquartered in Warsaw, North Carolina, is located just down the road from here. Murphy-Brown employs over 4,800 people in thirteen states; 2,800 of those jobs are right here in North Carolina.

Also, Murphy-Brown contracts with over 1,500 independent farmers in this state to grow livestock for the company. In addition to the jobs created on the farms in North Carolina by Murphy-Brown, the animals are processed at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel—creating another 5,000 jobs—and now we’re investing another $85 million in Kinston that will help grow the economy and add another 206 jobs,“ he said.

The new Smithfield Packing facility will manufacture deli hams, sliced deli products and retail and foodservice hams. Production volume will begin at 75 million pounds in 2006, the first year of operation, and reach 100 million pounds per year by 2011. The site design provides for future expansion as needed to accommodate Smithfield Packing’s projected growth in the smoked boneless ham category.

“This new facility is designed to meet growing consumer demand in the foodservice, retail and deli channels of our business,“ said Richard T. Goodman, president, Smithfield Deli Group. “This plant will provide the opportunity for Smithfield to participate successfully in a highly-competitive environment. Through production at Kinston, we will become a major player in the growing ham category in the retail deli case,“ said Mr. Goodman.

The Kinston plant will feature the meat industry’s state-of-the-art technologies, including:

  • Several slicing halls capable of producing approximately 50 million pounds per year of sliced products, as well as a variety of other deli products.

  • Automated European water cook and chill system, with proven efficiencies.

  • Filtered air and refrigeration systems that emulate a hospital-clean environment.

  • Employee traffic control and product flow management to ensure the highest food safety standards.

  • Integrated equipment automation and product management control systems to ensure tracking of all products throughout the operation.

  • Utility systems focused on energy and resource conservation.

“Our new plant reflects Smithfield’s environmental stewardship and our commitment to conserve our natural resources. Like the Murphy-Brown organization and all of Smithfield's other processing facilities in the U.S., this plant will utilize the internationally respected ISO 14001 Environmental Management System approach, including third party environmental audits, to ensure robust environmental protection,“ Seely added.

With annual sales of $10 billion, Smithfield Foods is the leading processor and marketer of fresh pork and processed meats in the United States, as well as the largest producer of hogs.

Source: Smithfield Foods - 16 October 2004

5m Editor