Cargill purchasing South Carolina ground beef plant

Acquisition enhances company's ability to serve eastern retail and foodservice customers.

Cargill announced March 4 the acquisition of the FPL Food LLC ground beef processing plant in Columbia, S.C. Purchase of the 100,000 sq. ft. plant, which employs more than 200 people, complements Cargill's meat processing facilities in Georgia and Pennsylvania and enhances its ability to serve eastern retail and foodservice customers, the company said. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed, and the transaction is expected to close around the end of March.

"Cargill ground beef customers served by this plant will benefit from closer proximity to supplies and improved transit time for their orders," said John Keating, president of Wichita, Kan.-based Cargill Beef. "We are acquiring an excellent facility with outstanding people and capabilities. This acquisition underscores our ongoing commitment to grow our protein business and will enable us to better serve retail and foodservice customers in a region where people love ground beef."

Cargill's North American beef business is one of the largest producers of ground beef products in the world, with numerous processing plants in the U.S. and Canada.

"Ground beef is a staple in the diet of most U.S. consumers, and we've recently seen encouraging trends, including a resurgence for premium gourmet burgers," Keating said. "Rebuilding the U.S. beef cattle herd from the severe multiyear drought suffered in Texas and the southern Plains is well underway, which will result in an increased beef supply later this year and beyond. The increased supply should benefit our customers and consumers over the next few years.”

Keating said forecasts suggest that global beef demand will continue to increase significantly, and U.S. demand is solid.

“Given the needs of our customers, purchasing this facility in South Carolina will help us expand our capabilities, including better utilization of the beef we generate at our other plants. Synergies make this acquisition very attractive to our beef business,” he added.

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