Conagra Brands to invest US$78m in upgrading US vegetable facility

USA – Conagra Brands plans to invest more than US$78 million in modernising and expanding its Birds Eye factory in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

The cold storage and vegetable packaging facility which sits on 350,000-square-foot site produces, Birds Eye, a leading brand in frozen vegetables and is one of two Birds Eye plants in Wisconsin.

According to Conagra Brands, expansion of the facility is expected to create around 140 full-time jobs over the next five years.

The Beaver Dam expansion is supported by Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which is authorising up to US$750,000 in state income tax credits over the next five years, subject to number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment.

“Birds Eye frozen vegetables have been a fixture in freezers in Wisconsin and around the country for generations, and I applaud the company for continuing to invest and grow in our state.

“As a company with facilities all over the country, Birds Eye was looking at other options for this expansion.

Its decision to expand in Wisconsin is a testament to the state’s strong business climate and outstanding workforce,” said WEDC CEO Mark Hogan.

Conagra acquired Birds Eye last year, alongside other brands as part of US$10.9 billion buyout deal for Pinnacle Foods in a move to expand its presence in frozen foods and snacks.

Conagra, which blamed lack of innovation at Pinnacle Foods for disappointing second-quarter results, said it was closing Pinnacle Foods’ Boulder facility and eliminateg all 100 positions starting in May.

Conagra’s revenues of US$2.38 billion for the quarter to 25 November were up on the US$2.17 billion generated in the corresponding period a year earlier but came in below expectations of US$2.41 billion.

The company also said it was exploring strategic alternatives for its Italian-based frozen pasta business, Gelit.

Gelit is a leading producer of authentic Italian frozen food and ready meals, primarily for private label customers and operates state-of-the-art facility located in Doganella di Ninfa, employing approximately 145 people.

Last December, Conagra offloaded its Wesson range of canola and vegetable cooking oils to Richardson International.

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