Peco Foods to shutter some facilities, expand Pocahontas operations

by George Jared ([email protected]) 1,265 views 

Poultry processor Peco Foods will close processing and live operations in three Mississippi locations, the company announced Thursday (Jan. 7). Brooksville, Canton (Fulton Street) and Philadelphia (hatchery) will be shut down by this summer. Peco will attempt to provide workers new positions within the company, if possible.

The company plans to expand operations at West Point and Sebastopol, Miss. facilities, and in Pocahontas, Ark. Those plants have the capability to expand value-added product lines and meet rising demands for customer-driven, innovative foods. The repositioning takes industry trends into account, shifting production based on customer feedback and consumer habits, Peco officials said.

“Since Peco’s beginnings as a family-owned company 83 years ago, the industry has drastically shifted,” said Peco Foods Chief Operating Officer Bill Griffith. “By streamlining our operations, we can continue building a sustainable company that will support the families and communities of our team members and customers for years to come. The decisions announced today – each carefully considered – will position Peco strongly for future growth and industry leadership.”

Customer feedback and prevailing economic conditions made the moves necessary, according to the company. How many workers could be impacted by the moves was not released, or how much the change in operations might cost.

“By growing strategically, we can continue attracting and retaining the brightest in the industry and contributing to economic development across our footprint,” said Peco Chief Executive Officer Mark Hickman. “We are thankful for the community support we’ve received over the years and look forward to impacting the region as a growing, thriving company employing thousands.”

With early beginnings as a small hatchery and feed mill, Peco has grown into an industry leader employing 7,000 people throughout Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.

In 2014, Peco announced it would build a poultry processing plant and a hatchery in Pocahontas and a $35 million feed mill in Corning. The projected payroll for the entire operation was set at about $20 million per year. Any dollar added to a local economy turns over 6.5 times, according to some economic metrics.

The 272,000-square-foot plant cost $165 million to build. It was built on 200 acres in the Pocahontas industrial park.

The benefits go beyond the workers hired at the plant, hatchery, and feed mill. At least 1,000 chicken houses have been contracted in the region to provide chickens to the processing plant.

Scores of truckers move the chickens and feed, and it has secondary economic benefits such as providing more fuel, restaurants, and other customers in the region.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Peco Foods is the eighth largest poultry producer in the U.S., according to the National Poultry and Food Distributors Association. The company began its Arkansas operations in 2011 when it opened a poultry processing plant in Batesville, and then opened a feed mill in nearby Newark.

 

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