ConAgra Scales Back

Omaha-based ConAgra Foods Inc. announced plans Thursday to close five manufacturing plants and eliminate about 400 jobs as part of a long-term plan to cut costs.

The company said it expects to save about $100 million in fixed costs annually starting in fiscal 2009 by closing the plants, with most of the production shifting to other ConAgra facilities.

The facilities that are closing include plants in the following cities: Archbold, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Rossford, Ohio; Folcroft, Pa., and Laval, Quebec.

ConAgra's tomato paste plant in Helm, California, will also operate only on a seasonal basis, with production increasing at the Oakdale, California, plant.

The company had previously announced plans to build a new plant in Fort Worth as long as local tax incentives are approved, and expand its Waterloo, Iowa, pudding plant.

ConAgra says the plant closings are part of a larger restructuring plan announced in March. The company has sold its refrigerated meats, seafood and cheese businesses to focus more on the brands company officials believe have the most potential, such as Healthy Choice, Chef Boyardee and Egg Beaters.

The businesses ConAgra sold this year have included well-known brands such as Butterball, Cook's, Louis Kemp, Armour, Decker, Ready Crisp and Margherita.

During the past eight years, ConAgra changed from a decentralized conglomerate based in agricultural commodities into a retailer of packaged food with centralized research, sales and administration.


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