Tyson Foods is proceeding with a multi-million dollar renovation at one of its Council Bluffs, Iowa, plants. Tyson plans to spend $48 million to convert the current cooked meats facility at 2101 South 29th Street into a dry sausage and pepperoni operation.
The Council Bluffs plant will become Tyson’s fifth dry sausage and pepperoni operation. The company is the nation’s largest foodservice industry supplier of pepperoni and pizza toppings and currently has one pepperoni plant in Kansas, one in Wisconsin and two in Texas.
The plant conversion will involve the installation of new equipment and product flows, as well as a 60,000 square foot addition. The multi-million dollar renovation is part of Tyson’s strategic effort to help meet total demand in the areas of pepperoni and pizza toppings.
“This is a major investment we believe will help us maintain our position as a leader in pepperoni production,” said Boyd Bulger, senior vice president and general manager of Prepared Foods for Tyson Foods. “Council Bluffs is the right location for this project, because of the existing facility and excellent workforce, its proximity to raw material supplies and the access to interstate highways.”
In order to complete the project, operations at the Council Bluffs cooked meats plant, which originally opened in 2001, must be temporarily suspended. Company officials currently plan to start scaling back production in late September, with plans to temporarily close the facility in October. The pepperoni operation is currently expected to begin in spring 2012, after renovations are completed, providing almost as many jobs as the cooked meats plant does now.
Workers currently employed at the cooked meats plant were given a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) informing them of suspension of operations. About 135 of the approximately 170 people employed at the plant will be put on temporary layoff, while the remainder, mostly maintenance and management staff, will remain on the job helping prepare for the new pepperoni operation.
Workers on temporary layoff will be called back, on a seniority basis, for open jobs with the pepperoni plant when it opens next spring. In the meantime, they will continue to qualify for certain company benefits, including health insurance, which Tyson helps fund. The company will also provide information about applying for unemployment benefits. In addition, affected workers have the option of applying for openings at other Tyson plant locations.
Employees at the company’s other Council Bluffs plant located at 2700 23rd Avenue, which produces case-ready beef and pork, will not be affected by the temporary suspension of operations.