Foremost Farms USA says it plans to close its Chilton, Wis., manufacturing facility in July.
“Manufacturing footprints continually evolve and change over time as the market changes. We are always reviewing our manufacturing network and looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” says Greg Schlafer, president and CEO. “Closing the facility is difficult for us. But in looking at our operations holistically, we don’t think making long-term investments in the plant makes strategic sense for our network. We have other plants with upgraded technology and optimized logistics that will drive significant cost efficiencies.”
In addition, the market has changed due to COVID-19. Work order volumes from food-service clients have decreased in a short period of time, creating product overcapacity and a sudden production demand drop. “We don’t see an immediate bounce back in cheese orders from food-service clients serviced by the location,” Schlafer says.
“This is not a reflection on our employees in Chilton,” he adds. “This is a business decision that has nothing to do with their performance, which has been excellent. We are committed to treating our employees with respect and dignity, and will be working with them through this transition.” The company will be working through the details of a severance package in the coming weeks.
Built in the 1940s, the Chilton plant makes Italian cheeses including provolone, which is sold into the food-service market for sandwiches. The 53 employees were told of the plant’s closing in mid-May.