03/30/10 — $94 million chicken plant possible for Goldsboro

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$94 million chicken plant possible for Goldsboro

By Staff Reports
Published in News on March 30, 2010 1:46 PM

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Construction of a chicken processing plant on U.S. 70 about three miles west of Kinston is under way. Work is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with production to start in January of 2011. Company officials say they also are considering building a plant near Goldsboro. If both plants go into production, it would increase the Mississippi-based company's processing capacity by 30 percent, officials say.

Wayne County officials met privately this morning to discuss plans by Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms to invest approximately $94 million in a new poultry deboning facility in the county that could employ up to 1,100 people.

The potential project has been the subject of several closed door meetings held by county commissioners and county Development Alliance officials over the past several months.

County officials could not release details today, saying the project is still in its preliminary stage.

A location has not been announced, but there has been speculation that the plant could be built north of Goldsboro.

Sanderson already has a plant under construction on U.S. 70 East just outside Kinston.

According to published reports, the Goldsboro project, if built, would consist of an expansion of the feed mill for the Kinston plant, a hatchery, a processing plant with capacity to process 1.25 million "big bird" chickens per week and a wastewater treatment facility.

A Goldsboro plant would be expected to employ about 1,100 people, require about 150 contract growers, and be equipped to process and sell 8.9 million pounds of dressed meat per week.

"The biggest thing is that farmers would have to make a pretty big investment," county Extension Director Howard Scott said. "It is a pretty significant investment (to grow the birds). It is a large investment for farmers, but a good investment, particularly for the next generation of farmers.

"It is just one more option a farmer could look at in diversifying the farm, just an option. Whether it comes here or to another county, farmers will have an option to participate if they meet the requirements.

Scott said the "big birds" normally weigh about eight pounds each and are specifically grown for their breast meat, which is used for chicken nuggets, chicken strips and sandwich cuts.

According to company officials, the plan is contingent on several factors, including state and local economic incentives and obtaining property and permits.

It also would require the approval of Sanderson Farms' lenders of a change to the company's revolving credit agreement.

If all of those conditions are met, construction could begin in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, with operations starting in the third quarter of fiscal 2012.

According to information on the company's Web site, Sanderson Farms is one of the nation's leading food corporations, with annual sales of more than $1.789 billion. Sanderson has plants in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Georgia that process more than 8.125 million chickens per week. It also has six feed mills and seven hatcheries.

Sanderson was founded 1947, was incorporated in 1955 and is the fourth-largest poultry producer in the U.S.

Sanderson employs more than 10,000 workers and utilizes 770 independent growers.

Sanderson officials said in a press release that net proceeds from a common stock offering, along with "other funds" will be used to finance the Kinston project and a "potential new big bird complex" near Goldsboro.