SLEEPY EYE, Minn. — Del Monte announced it will close its peas and corn canning plant at Sleepy Eye, eliminating 360 full- and part-time jobs.
Production will stop in Sleepy Eye; Mendota, Ill.; and a plant in Cambria, Wis., will be sold at the end of the packing season this fall, the company announced Tuesday, Aug. 20.
The Sleepy Eye plant opened in 1930 and processes peas and corn grown by more than 300 different farmers on more than 22,000 acres, according to the Del Monte Foods website. At the Minnesota location, 69 full-time employees and 294 seasonal employees will lose their jobs, according to a filing with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Sleepy Eye Mayor Wayne Pelzel told KSTP-TV that the city of 3,600 residents 35 miles west of Mankato wasn’t given any notice about the closing, which he called “a terrible shock.”
Just last weekend, the community celebrated its annual Buttered Corn Days festival.
The closings are part of a restructuring of Del Monte’s U.S. supply chain, according to a news release from Del Monte Pacific Limited, the parent company of Del Monte Foods.
The plant closings will allow Del Monte to use the capacity at its other plants to focus on brand growth and innovation, according to the release.
“This decision has been difficult and has come after careful consideration. This restructuring is a necessary step for us to remain competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace. Our asset-light strategy will lead to more efficient and lower cost operations,” Joselito D. Campos Jr., managing director and CEO of the parent firm, said in a statement. “We are committed to doing all we can to provide the affected employees with resources and support.”
The St. Paul Pioneer Press contributed to this report.