Mason City, IA – Pending finalization of state approvals, Prestage Foods of Iowa, LLC announced today that it intends to build a state-of-the-art, pork processing facility on a proposed tract in Mason City, IA. This one-shift plant will employ as many as 1,000 Iowans with a total capital investment of more than $240 million, the company said.

“We are excited to take the next logical step in vertical integration by building a new high-tech pork plant in Mason City, IA,” said Ron Prestage, DVM, on behalf of the Prestage family.

“We see this as an opportunity to secure the future of our family business, its employees, and our contract growers, whether they are in the Carolinas, MS, OK, TX, or IA. Having produced market hogs in Iowa for the past dozen years, we believe Mason City is the right place for us to strategically build this new plant,” he said.

The project, as currently planned, will involve the design and construction of a new 650,000 sq. ft. hog processing facility that will operate on one shift, processing 10,000 hogs per day and producing 600 million pounds of pork annually. The facility will be designed, but not initially constructed, for future expansion to two shifts, according to the company. Timing for a second shift is yet to be determined.

A Win/Win
“This is terrific for Iowa and Iowa pork producers,” said John Weber, newly elected president of the National Pork Producers Council. He was just returning from the press conference in Mason City when PORK Network called.

“It will increase the competitiveness of pork producers in the area to have another market source,” Weber said. “It’s a bold move but [Prestage] has a lot of pigs in Iowa.”

According to Weber, Prestage plans to source half the pigs from the company’s own capacity; it plans to purchase the rest of the pigs from Iowa and Minnesota producers. The area has JBS and Tyson plants already, so the new plant should up the ante for market hogs.

Weber is optimistic about pork demand, both on the export front and domestically, and the new plant will provide much-needed market capacity.

“The announcement was well-received and the new plant will really boost the economy in the area,” said Weber. “I just think it’s a win/win for Iowa.”

The plant is expected to utilize the latest innovations in processing and automation technology “to help ensure that it is a world leader in food, employee, and environmental safety,” said the company’s news release.

Construction is set to begin, pending finalization of state permits and approvals, in the summer of 2016 with completion and first shift operations beginning in mid-2018.

Vertical Integration
Prestage believes vertical integration is necessary to protect its hog production investment in Iowa and elsewhere, and to create additional opportunities for independent producers in Iowa to maximize value for their livestock.

“With the importance of Iowa to pork production in the United States, it is only natural that our first pork processing plant would locate here,” said Jere Null, COO of Prestage Foods of Iowa. “This facility will be built with exports in mind. Global consumers…will place additional value on the significant investment that we are making in engineering to insure that this plant produces the highest level of safe food available anywhere in the world.”