Green Forest Foods, located in Green Forest, Ark., is a shell egg operation that had been jointly owned and operated by Pier 44 Properties and Cal-Maine since January 2006. Effective Jan. 27, 2007, Green Forest became a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Maine.

Green Forest produces, processes, and markets eggs from approximately 1 million layers, along with pullet growing for replacements. The eggs are marketed to retail food stores and food service distributors in the south central U.S.

Fred Adams, Cal-Maine's chairman and CEO, said that "over the past year, we have continued to develop (Green Forest Foods), enhancing our ability to serve our customers in the south central U.S. This is an important market for the company and we look forward to the additional growth opportunities for Cal-Maine."

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Green Forest was purchased by Pier 44, an Arkansas house building and real estate company, about 3 years ago. Pier 44 made the purchase as an investment, but more recently has wanted to get out of the egg business, sources say. Green Forest, which has been operating its egg company for many years, recently refurbished its layer operation, Adams says. Cal-Maine has been operating the facility, including marketing its egg production. Management will remain the same, "and the change in ownership should run smoothly," Adams says. Ninety percent of the eggs from the operation are sold under customers' labels, and the remaining eggs "may or may not have the Green Forest label," he says, adding that they will either have the Green Forest or Cal-Maine label.

Adams says the purchase will increase Cal-Maine's layer numbers on Egg Industry magazine's annual listing by about half a million birds.