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Giant Eagle is looking to broaden the offerings of its new facility in Beaver County, Pa., that supplies cut fruit and hot soups to the Pittsburgh-based grocer’s 228 supermarkets and 160 GetGo locations.
In about 70,000 square feet of a 170,000-square-foot building formerly used by various food distributors, Giant Eagle has installed massive kitchen equipment needed to prepare pre-cut fresh fruit, soups and certain prepared foods. “We think we can produce a fresh product that is more quickly available to our customers,” Tom DeVries, Giant Eagle VP of prepared foods, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, adding that the pre-cut fruit sold in Giant Eagle stores had been supplied by a Del Monte plant in Maryland until this year.
After considering a green-field site, Giant Eagle opted for the Beaver County location, which has easy access to two of the grocer’s distribution centers in the region. An incentive package assembled by state, county and regional development officials offers a $1.35 million opportunity grant, $810,000 in job creation tax credits and $200,000 in training assistance. In addition, Giant Eagle has applied for $2 million in machinery and equipment loans. Since the beginning of the year, the workforce at the new plant has grown to about 110, and hiring continues, the Post-Gazette reported.
An R&D chef has been developing new items, which could expand the offerings and also eventually make the facility a supplier to other grocers or customers. “We think this idea of chilled, never-frozen soup is a big idea,” DeVries told the Post-Gazette.