US-based egg processor Cal-Maine Foods has invested in a new added-value entity that will operate as MeadowCreek Foods.

Cal-Maine said the focus of its new MeadowCreek Foods business will be to create “high-value commercial product solutions targeting specific needs in the food industry”. Product lines will include hard-cooked and extended shelf-life egg lines.

Headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi, Cal-Maine is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the US.

It said it will invest up to US$18.5m in debt and equity to purchase property and equipment and to fund working capital for the new entity which will be based in Neosho, Missouri. The company will retain a controlling interest in the venture.

The MeadowCreek management team will be led by Ronald Bennett who began his career in the egg products division of Cal-Maine Foods in 1991. He brings 30 years of egg industry experience to the new venture having previously served as chief operating officer of Prime Foods and director of Egg Products at Moark.

Cal-Maine said it will serve as the preferred provider to supply the eggs MeadowCreek will need to manufacture egg products.

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It suggested the establishment of MeadowCreek will expand its reach in the foodservice and retail channels and create new opportunities in the restaurant, institutional and industrial food products arena.

Dolph Baker, Cal-Maine’s CEO, said: “We are pleased to announce our strategic investment in MeadowCreek, which provides Cal-Maine Foods an opportunity to not only grow our presence in the egg products sector, but position ourselves to better seek out solutions for economically feeding a growing world population.

“While approximately 30% of produced eggs are currently directed to further processing in the US, as speciality eggs become more popular, we see the demand for more speciality egg products including cage-free products, to provide for industrial, foodservice and retail needs.

“We believe MeadowCreek will play an important role in meeting this demand and look forward to our partnership with Ronald and his operations team in support of this venture.”

Just Food has asked for further comment.

Cal-Maine sells the majority of its shell eggs in states across the south-western, south-eastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the US.

In May, it was announced that it had taken full control of Texas-based Red River Valley Egg Farm.