ConAgra to close blast-damaged Slim Jim plant

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: North carolina, Conagra foods

ConAgra Foods Inc is to close a US meat processing plant where a devastating explosion last summer killed four people and devastated the site.

The Slim Jim meat snacks facility in North Carolina will be shuttered within 15-18 months with the loss of around 500 jobs. Production will be transferred to the company’s plant in Troy, Ohio, which will add 200 workers to its site to meet the extra capacity demand generated by four new production lines.

Economic reasons

ConAgra confirmed the decision to close the 500,000-square-foot plant had been an economic one.

“The explosion on June 9 destroyed almost half the Garner plant, which is a very large facility,”​ company spokeswoman Stephanie Childs told FoodProductionDaily.com. “We would have preferred to remain in Garner but it was simply more economical to move production to Troy.”

The closing is expected to result in charges of between $52m-$72m, while the company will also spend $60 million to $70 million at the Troy plant.

The North Carolina site has been operating at limited capacity since the blast that ripped through the facility after workman were venting gas inside the company’s pump room. The explosion caused the roof to collapse, killing a total of four and injuring 40. ConAgra was fined $135,000 for breaching dozens of safety regulations and the incident led to calls from the Chemical Safety Board for a national overall of gas venting laws.

ConAgra Foods CEO Gary Rodkin paid tribute to the workers at the North Carolina site.

"We truly value the commitment that our Garner employees and the entire Garner community have shown over the past several months,"​ he said. "This was an incredibly difficult decision, but a decision that allows us to leverage economies of scale in Troy, which is necessary for the good of our business over the long term.”

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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