Heinz expands production of frozen meals

H.J. Heinz Company is expanding its production of frozen meals, investing a reported $105 million in a new Florence County, South Carolina facility. Located on 49 acres in Pee Dee Electric Cooperative's Touchstone Energy Commerce City, this 225,000-square-foot plant will produce Weight Watchers Smart Ones and Boston Market product frozen entrees.

Heinz-branded product sales climbed about 14 percent in 2007, according to the firm's fiscal year 2008 report. Annual sales for the company were more than $10 billion for the first time, the report indicated.

“Our frozen meals business is growing rapidly, and the new facility is a sign of our commitment to supporting and sustaining this growth,” said Dave Moran, president and chief executive officer of Heinz North America, in a press release.

The Florence County facility is expected to add 350 jobs to the Pee Dee, or northeastern corner of South Carolina. Heinz North America has more than 10,000 employees, according to the press release.

Totaling more than $4.5 billion in revenues, Heinz's meals and snacks earned about 10.8 percent more revenue than its ketchup and sauces in the past year and about 9.3 percent more in fiscal year 2007.

Groundbreaking for the plant is slated for summer 2008, and Heinz anticipates the site will be finished in late summer 2009.

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