Butterball LLC announced today that it will close its Montgomery, Ill., processing facility this summer, ending production at a plant that the company purchased approximately four years ago.

Butterball COO Jay Jandrain, via a company spokesperson, told The National Provisioner: “The lack of vertical integration in the pork complex and the weakness in the raw material commodity markets” was the primary reason for the decision to close the facility.

Further, Jandrain made the following statement, sent out this afternoon by the company:

“Today, we shared with our employees the very difficult decision that, to meet evolving consumer and customer needs and to address changes in market conditions, Butterball will phase out production and close our Montgomery, Ill. plant on or about July 17, 2017.

We are committed to retaining as many of our Montgomery employees as possible, and are committed to offering relocation assistance to any of our team members who have an interest in staying with the company and accept an available position at another location.

In addition, we will be working diligently with leaders across the enterprise and with other resources in the days and weeks ahead to identify and provide opportunities for outplacement and retraining for those affected, and will be seeking support from local and state economic agencies to find a buyer for the facility with the hope of securing new opportunities for the local economy.”

Butterball purchased the plant — then Gusto Packing Co. — in 2013 with its sights set on diversification of its product mix and increased production space. At the time, Butterball had phased items such as turkey bacon and turkey burgers out of co-packing agreements and into in-house operations.

In January 2016, The National Provisioner profiled Butterball on its cover (http://bit.ly/butterballhousewins), and in that story, Kerry Doughty, Butterball president and CEO, explained, “The original intent of [acquiring Montgomery] was to take its unused capacity and utilize it for turkey processing. It was in a good location relative to our raw-material sources, and our foodservice and retail distribution centers, but from a merchandising standpoint, it is helpful to be a multi-protein company.”

At the time of that story, Butterball had just begun processing its turkey bacon at the Montgomery plant, and when asked today about the future plans for that production in light of this announcement, Jandrain told The National Provisioner via email that there were two approved facilities for producing Butterball’s turkey bacon, and that “Montgomery production will shift to the other approved facility until it permanently moves to our Raeford facility in early 2018.”

The Raeford, N.C, facility was also profiled as part of that January 2016 cover story, after Butterball had purchased that plant and begun an extensive renovation there (http://bit.ly/ButterballRaeford).

The Raeford and Montgomery plants — as stated in the story — ranked as the second- and third-largest plants (behind the Mount Olive, N.C., facility) in the Butterball family based on processing footprint.

More on this story as news develops.