Berry Plastics Group Inc. is closing down a manufacturing site in Iowa and selling off the location to a well-known food and agricultural company that has no current plans for the location.
The decision to shutter Berry Plastics' lid and container operation in Iowa Falls impacts about 50 full-time employees, the company said.
Berry Plastics also has reached an agreement to sell the 96,000-square-foot site to Cargill Inc., subject to Cargill's due diligence of the location.
“Berry Plastics will transfer production from its Iowa Falls facility to other existing facilities within the United States,” the company said in a statement.
Berry Plastics anticipates the Iowa Falls site will close no later than Sept. 7.
“The action is being taken to allow the company to maximize capacity utilization across its facilities,” Berry Plastics said.
Berry Plastics spokeswoman Eva Schmitz, in an email interview, provided some additional information about the job losses.
“As in our statement and as relayed to the employees at the company's Iowa Falls facility, Berry Plastics will work diligently to help those employees affected with job loss to identify new opportunities in the Iowa Falls community and at other Berry Plastics locations. At this time, there is no way to predict how many Iowa Falls employees may wish to transfer to other Berry Plastics locations,” she said.
Cargill said the property purchase from Berry is only an opportunistic buy to give its adjacent soybean processing plant room to expand in the future.
“If we ever needed to grow, that property would come in handy,” Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said. “Prior to this, we were landlocked, so we would not have any room to grow. This has nothing to do with the plastics industry in that we're not buying the business. We're just buying a property that's being vacated by Berry.”
Cargill processes soybeans purchased from Iowa farmers at the facility, producing soybean oil and meal. The oil is used in a variety of products, including cooking oil, and is even used as a feedstock to make biodiesel fuel also manufactured at the site, Klein said.
The closure of the Berry Plastics site in Iowa Falls ends the company's long-standing presence in the community dating back to the 1990s. That's when Berry Plastics acquired the assets of the Mammoth Containers division of Genpack Corp., adding sites in Iowa Falls and Forest City, N.C.
Berry Plastics was a much smaller company then with just a handful of sites and sales totaling only a fraction of what they are now.
Berry Plastics, today, has more 90 locations around the world and sales of about $5 billion annually.