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Hormel Foods Corp. late last month celebrated the grand opening of Progressive Processing LLC, its new production facility in Dubuque, Iowa. Progressive Processing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Austin, Minn.-based Hormel, is the first new production facility the company has built in over a quarter-century.
The facility was built in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, which was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for environmentally sustainable construction. Hormel has applied for LEED certification and expects confirmation in the coming months. Progressive Processing is expected to be one of the first manufacturing plants, as well as the only refrigerated food-processing facility, to be LEED certified at any level. The site will employ at least 25 percent less energy and water than a plant built to meet current building codes and industry standards, and was constructed using materials with more than 36 percent recycled content. Hormel believes it will recoup the extra cost necessary to build the eco-friendly facility in its first two years of operation.
“Progressive Processing is a result of our continued growth, and it incorporates some of the latest technology available for manufacturing,” noted Hormel chairman, president and CEO Jeffrey M. Ettinger. “Our goal is to set the food industry’s gold standard for harmonizing the impact of operations with the environment, and we believe we have accomplished this with Progressive Processing.”
The 348,000-square-foot plant, which will cost $89 million when complete, officially opened in January of this year, when it produced its first run of Hormel Compleats microwave meals.
Progressive Processing currently employs about 90 associates. At maximum capacity, the company could employ as many 300 people. Currently, the plant is producing one line of Compleats. Additional employees will be hired based on business needs and as further production lines are added.
One of four plants manufacturing Compleats microwave meals, Progressive Processing currently produces four of the most popular varieties — Spaghetti, Chicken & Dumplings, Chicken & Noodles, and Lasagna — although the facility is capable of producing all varieties of Compleats and CHI-CHI’S Fiesta Plates microwave meals.
Heading up Progressive Processing is plant manager Mark Zelle, whose career with Hormel spans 30 years. Progressive Processing plans to donate over 14,000 Compleats meals from its production to the Dubuque Food Bank over the next year.
“At Hormel Foods, we have a long legacy of supporting the communities in which we live and work, and that tradition continues with our new facility in Dubuque,” said Zelle.