Del Monte Foods Company (NYSE: DLM) announced today that the company plans to close its Woodland, California tomato processing facility in January 2001. The closing of the Woodland facility is being done pursuant to Del Monte’s strategy to improve operating efficiencies through the consolidation of its California manufacturing operations and to reduce the production of lower margin, commodity products such as bulk tomato paste.
Production of Woodland’s 28-ounce Del Monte brand diced tomato products will be moved to Del Monte’s state-of-the-art tomato facility in Hanford, California. Hanford will also be Del Monte’s sole internal source of bulk tomato paste, a key component for many of the Company’s Del Monte and Contadina brands of tomato products.
“We are working with our employees to make this transition as easy as possible for them and the community,” said Richard G. Wolford, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Del Monte. “After careful review of our operations and industry conditions and trends, we determined that this move was necessary to ensure that our overall tomato business remains efficient, robust and competitive.”
The Woodland facility employs 46 full time employees for whom the Company will arrange either employment opportunities in another California Del Monte plant or severance benefits. The Woodland facility was one of two California plants that Del Monte acquired in December 1997, when the Company purchased the Contadina tomato business from Nestle USA, Inc. Tomato paste had been the primary product produced at the Woodland plant, which was built in 1942. After completing this closure at the end of the calendar year, Del Monte will own three processing plants and one distribution center in California.
Del Monte Foods Company, with net sales of $1.5 billion in fiscal 2000, is the largest producer and distributor of premium quality, branded processed fruit, vegetable and tomato products in the United States. The Del Monte brand was introduced in 1892 and is one of the best known brands in the United States. Del Monte products are sold through national grocery chains, independent grocery stores, warehouse club stores, mass merchandisers, drug stores and convenience stores. The Company also sells its products to the U.S. military, certain export markets, the foodservice industry and food processors. The Company operates fourteen production facilities in California, the Midwest, Washington and Texas and seven distribution centers.