Del Monte plant in Sleepy Eye, Minn. to close, affecting 363 workers

The Del Monte Foods plant in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota will close permanently sometime this fall, affecting hundreds of employees.

According to Del Monte Pacific Limited, the plant will permanently close after the current pack season, which it expects to be on or around Oct. 21, 2019. The layoffs will begin in stages when all labeling, shipping and closing activities are completed around June 2020.

In a release, Del Monte announced the closure of the Sleepy Eye facility and a similar facility in Mendota, Illinois. The Cambria, Wisconsin facility will be sold after its packing season as well. In Crystal City, Texas, the facility will be selling off its manufacturing assets after its closure. 

Production at all of these locations will be transitioned to other Del Monte facilities.

The news came as quite a shock to residents of Sleepy Eye, many of whom relied on the facility for stable income.

"My mother used to work there part-time in the summer just for college money for us kids," resident Sandy Sellner said. "I feel really bad for the farmers, too, that plant the peas and the corn. I know a couple of the full-time workers, and I’m going, 'oh no, where are you going to find another full-time job? They’ll be looking for other jobs, and other than healthcare, there probably aren’t a lot of other jobs around here."

Kurk Kramer, Economic Development Association Coordinator for the City of Sleepy Eye, said he was also floored by the decision. 

"It was like a bomb going off. Del Monte is one of our major employers in town, and there was no hint of this coming," he said.

Full statement from Del Monte Pacific Limited:

"This decision has been difficult and has come after careful consideration. This restructuring is a necessary step for us to remain competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace. Our asset-light strategy will lead to more efficient and lower cost operations," said Joselito D. Campos, Jr., Managing Director and CEO, Del Monte Pacific Limited. "We are committed to doing all we can to provide the affected employees with resources and support."