In an ongoing effort to ensure its plant operations reflect changes in the pork and beef marketplace, Farmland’s Refrigerated Foods Group is adding three new case-ready pork and beef plants. Plus, the company is closing its Topeka, Kan., pork processing plant.

Farmland National Beef will open three case-ready plants to accommodate increased demand in this growing segment. Plants in Hummels Wharf, Pa., and Moultrie, Ga., opened this month. A third plant, in the Kansas City area, is expected to begin operations next spring.

Plant locations were selected based on proximity to key retail distribution centers. Bill Fielding, Farmland executive vice president and president of the Refrigerated Foods Group, says the success of Farmland CaseReady ExtraTender Fresh pork spurred further case-ready demand from retailers.

"Farmland began serving the case-ready market in 1991 with Case-Ready pork. Satisfaction with our product and service capability on the pork side led to demand for case-ready beef from Farmland National Beef," Fielding said.

Farmland Foods began operating case-ready pork plants in 1999 with a plant in Omaha, Neb. Since then, two additional case-ready pork plants have opened in Salt Lake City and Madison, Wis. According to a company spokesman, all of the case-ready plants will produce pork and beef products.

Also in response to changing customer demand, pork processing operations at the Farmland Foods facility in Topeka will begin winding down in October. The 250 employees working at the Topeka plant will be encouraged to apply for open positions at other Farmland Foods plants, including the plant in Wichita, Kan.

While Farmland Foods has decreased its pork processing operations at some locations this year, its market share is on the rise. "We are making these transitions at our pork processing facilities in order to improve efficiencies, which will then help us grow our market share," Fielding said. "In addition to increasing our case-ready pork and further processing operations, we have increased hog capacity at our three kill plants."

Fielding says both Farmland Foods and Farmland National Beef are adapting operations to reflect a changing marketplace. "Our customers are asking for more case-ready product, while demand for products, such as canned ham, continues to decline. The changes at our production facilities are designed to accommodate our customers and expand the Farmland brand."