Allen Harim Foods will consolidate its processing operation to one central location, leading to the closure of a plant in Cordova, Maryland, in July.
The closure will impact approximately 300 employees at that facility, who will be offered jobs at the company's other locations including a hatchery, feed mill and truck shop in Seaford, Delaware, a hatchery in Dagsboro, Delaware, and its main processing facility in Harbeson, Delaware.
Steve Evans, CEO of Allen Harim, said a combination of factors contributed to the decision, including the age of the facility, a shift in the company's product mix and a desire to improve the company's competitive position in order to assure greater efficiency.
"We are very grateful to our Cordova-based employees, some of whom have been with us for a very long time," said Evans. "We will do everything possible to help them continue their employment with us, or to help them find other opportunities."
Employees were notified of the decision on March 8. Allen Harim's human resources department will coordinate with state and local officials to leverage all available resources to assist employees. The company plans to open an on-site career center to help employees during this transition.
Much of the processing equipment will be moved to the company's Harbeson, Delaware, facility in the coming months.
In February, Allen Harim became one of the first chicken companies in the nation to provide 100-percent vegetarian feed for its birds. It also announced that its signature brand, Nature's Sensation, would now be positioned as "no antibiotics ever" - again one of the first in the nation to make that commitment.
The company has seen grown since it was purchased by the Harim Group in 2011. That year, Allen Harim employed 1,229 people. The company currently employs more than 1,800 people in the United States, as well as more than 230 independent growers and 20 company farms across the Delmarva Peninsula. About half those farms are located in Maryland. The consolidation of processing operations will not affect any poultry growers in Maryland, Delaware or North Carolina.
"We've worked very hard over the past three years to take this company in a new and focused direction and to return it to a profitable operation that will continue to grow and employ people on Delmarva," Evans added. "We are following a strategic plan that achieves our goal of a sustainable company moving forward."
The Cordova processing facility was built in 1945 by Cordova Poultry Company and purchased by the former Allen Family Foods in 1971. It was later owned by Esskay, and then leased to Ralston-Purina. In the last two decades, it has processed about 600,000 chickens a week, primarily rotisserie chicken and whole bird packaging, for markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.