Poultry Growth Resumes in Delaware

US - Customer demand is driving growth at Mountaire Farms, leading the biggest chicken producer in Delaware to expand its Millsboro hatchery by more than a third in square footage.
calendar icon 3 July 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

DelawareOnline reports that the $8.5 million expansion, slated for completion in October, will create four additional production jobs paying $11 to $15 per hour.

"As our customers’ business grows, the demand for our products grows," said Michael W. Tirrell, vice president of Human Resources and Business Services. "We must grow in order to meet the increasing demand for our products."

The existing 60,000-square-foot hatchery will be expanded by 20,500 square feet and boost total chick production by 100,000 per week to more than 2 million, Mr Tirrell said. The facility will supply about 300 farms.

Mountaire Farms has 7,000 employees, including those in Maryland and North Carolina, with 4,500 operating facilities in Delaware. The company started in 1977 as a poultry processor and has grown to operate grain and feed mills, grain elevators and hatcheries. Its products, including fresh and frozen, are sold under its own retail private label, to the food service industry and to wholesalers and for export.

Fellow poultry producer, Allen Harim, formerly known as Allen Family Foods, a 92-year-old family business that fell to bankruptcy, is investing deeply in its operation.

In April the firm revealed plans to purchase the former Vlasic pickle plant east of Millsboro and complete a $100 million expansion. The announcement brought optimism to an area where 130 jobs were lost in 2011 when Pinnacle Foods, owner of the Vlasic brand, closed the plant and consolidated operations in Michigan.

"We are still in the due diligence process so the sale has not yet been completed," said Douglas R. Freeman, senior manager of Human Resources for Allen Harim. "We have been having neighborhood meetings with the area residents to answer their questions and explain our operation."

The deal may be completed in three to six months, Mr Freeman said.

Plans for the 460,000-square-foot plant entail a complete remodel of the facility for poultry processing to boost Allen Harim’s expansion into new markets and focus on specialty products such as prepared/precooked chickens. Harim is backed by the strength of its global parent, The Harim Group, and remains on a continued growth path, creating a presence in certain niches Allen Family Foods did not.

Delaware’s five poultry plants include Mountaire in Millsboro and Selbyville, Allen Harim in Harbeson, and Perdue Farms in Milford and Georgetown.

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