Cargill to end whole turkey production in Waco, Texas

Cargill will end fresh and frozen whole turkey production at its Waco, Texas, facility in November, the company confirmed.

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Cargill will end fresh and frozen whole turkey production at its Waco, Texas, facility in November, the company confirmed.

However, according to an email from Daniel Sullivan, Cargill media relations director – North America, the cooked meats portion of the facility, which produces pre-sliced and other deli products, will continue to operate.

Cargill remains committed to the Waco community,” Sullivan wrote.

According to Sullivan, “the vast majority of employees were offered other positions.”

Cargill is the third largest turkey company in the United States, trailing only Butterball and Jennie-O Turkey Store. In addition to Texas, Cargill’s turkey operation includes locations in Virginia, Minnesota, Arkansas, Nebraska and Missouri. 

“Our turkey production footprint will ensure we serve customers from our other facilities as we deliver high-quality products for the holiday season and beyond. As one of the largest turkey producers in the U.S., we are committed to the success of our customers and our turkey business,” Sullivan stated.

Cargill, which produces turkeys under the Honeysuckle White, Shady Brook Farms, Honest Turkey, Charter Reserve and Castlewood Reserve brands, reduced its turkey production in 2018. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, it slaughtered 950 million pounds of live turkeys in 2018, a decrease of 50 million pounds – or 5 percent – from 2017.

Turkey company trends

While Cargill reduced production more than any other turkey company in 2018, the struggling turkey industry saw eight other top companies also cut back last year. Those companies, according to WATT PoultryUSA were Butterball, Kraft Heinz, Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, Cooper Farms, Hain Pure Protein, Turkey Valley Farms and Pitman Family Farms.

Total turkey slaughter in the U.S. was down by 60 million pounds, but the decrease in production from some companies was partially offset by increased turkey slaughter from Jennie-O Turkey Store, Tyson Foods, Farbest Foods, Purdue Foods, Michigan Turkey Producers, Dakota Provisions and Koch’s Turkey Farm.

Zacky Farms, previously the 18th largest turkey company in the United States, has since gone out of business, while Hain Celestial exited the turkey industry earlier in 2019, selling its Plainville Farms turkey business to a group of investors calling itself Plainville Brands LLC.

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