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Cargill Value Added Meats (CVAM) has acquired Willow Brook Foods' operations in Springfield, Mo., as well as its Albert Lea, Minn., cooked meat operation -- Schweigert Foods - and its flagship Willow Brook protein brands including its eponymous brand, Kettle Fried, Lifestyle Premium Deli, Gourmet Recipe, Harvest Provisions, and Sunday House.
A business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions, CVAM is involved in further-processed meats and turkey processing. The Springfield, Mo.-based Willow Brook, which produces processed pork, beef, chicken and turkey products, markets products in the retail, foodservice and industrial segments.
"High feed and energy-related costs have made it difficult for Willow Brook to continue operating," said Mike Briggs, president of Willow Brook.
Within the next four to six months, CVAM will transition the turkey processing operations from Willow Brook facilities in Springfield to its plants in California, Mo., and Springdale, Ark. The Springfield plants at Main Avenue and Jefferson Avenue will then be closed. The Springfield plants employ about 780 people.
"Closing the two Springfield plants is a difficult decision," said John O'Carroll, CVAM president. "But we are encouraging Springfield employees to apply for jobs at CVAM's facilities, including the plants in California, Mo., and Springdale, Ark., and we will offer relocation packages."
For those who choose not to relocate, Cargill will provide outplacement services, and for appropriate personnel, Cargill will provide severance packages. "We are hopeful that Willow Brook employees will choose to remain with us and we look forward to working with them," O'Carroll said.
Willow Brook's agricultural operations, including the contract turkey production and Butterfield, Mo., feed mill, and the Albert Lea cooked meat operation will continue to operate. CVAM will assume Willow Brook's leases of a slicing facility and a distribution center in Springfield.