Hormel to Shutter Jennie-O Turkey Plant in Willmar
Photo courtesy of Hormel

Hormel to Shutter Jennie-O Turkey Plant in Willmar

The Austin, Minnesota-based food company says it will move the plant’s workers to a larger facility in Willmar.

Hormel Food Corp., maker of Spam, Skippy peanut butter, and dozens of other pantry staples, on Thursday morning said it plans to close its Jennie-O “Turkey Store” plant in Willmar.

In a news release, the company said it will shutter its Jennie-O plant on Benson Avenue in Willmar and move employees to a larger production facility in the same city. No layoffs are anticipated. Hormel employs about 200 at the Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Hormel CEO, president, and chairman Jim Snee said the company is closing the plant to “further enhance growth and profitability” for its turkey business.

“We are embarking on a series of actions to create a more efficient, innovative and demand-oriented turkey portfolio,” Snee said in the release. “Our actions are consistent with our long-term strategy to increase our focus on branded value-added products that are aligned with the changing needs of today’s customers, consumers and operators, while decreasing our exposure to commodity volatility.”

Hormel aims to close the turkey plant in the first half of its 2022 fiscal year. The company will move the plant’s production processes to multiple other facilities.

Hormel’s Wednesday morning press release touted “double-digit sales growth from every segment” in the company’s fourth quarter. That includes the Jennie-O division, which reported nearly $460 million in sales, up 23 percent from the same quarter last year.

Even so, those numbers apparently didn’t translate into higher profits for the Jennie-O division. In the fourth quarter, the turkey division’s profit fell 7 percent. How does that happen? Inflation may have played a role. Hormel officials said that “higher feed costs and freight expenses” cut into the segment’s profit. Hormel purchased the Jennie-O brand back in 1986.

All things considered, Hormel’s bottom line is still in good shape. The company’s annual revenue jumped 18.5 percent to nearly $11.4 billion, and its net earnings grew 4.2 percent to $909 million.

Snee noted that the company’s Planters division is “performing at the high end of our expectations.” Net sales in the company’s grocery division jumped 56 percent, owing in large part to Planters sales. “Net sales increased significantly due to the inclusion of the Planters snack nuts business, higher pricing, and organic volume growth from the simple meals and Mexican foods portfolios,” Hormel officials said in the release.

Hormel purchased the Planters brand for $3.3 billion earlier this year.