The Wilson Times

Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:30 PM

Bruce Foods sold to S.C. company

By Rochelle Moore | Times Staff Writer

McCall Farms in South Carolina is buying two Bruce Foods plants, including the Wilson facility, as part of a deal to add Bruce Yams to its product line.

The sale is planned on Dec. 31 and includes the Bruce Foods Wilson plant and the Bruce Foods plant in New Iberia, La., said Norman Brown Sr., co-owner and vice president of Bruce Foods Corp., which operates four manufacturing plants.

"Both plants will be owned and operated by McCall Farms and the current employees will remain employed,” Brown said. "The plants will continue operating and processing yams and vegetables.”

The Wilson plant employs 200 workers, some who are seasonal employees. The two Bruce Foods plants are the producers of the company’s yam division. Products currently manufactured by Bruce Foods and included in the acquisition are yams, white potatoes and Southern vegetables, including okra, squash, greens and carrots.

Bruce Foods has a total of four plants and the remaining two will continue to produce its other products, including its Mexican food line.

The Bruce Foods plants that are part of the sale will change in name to McCall Farms. Brown said there is no plan to change operations in Wilson. Wilson employees were notified of the pending sale in early December, Brown said.

"There’s no planned changes in operations,” Brown said. "Everybody’s staying, including me. I’m going to be assisting McCall Farms in the transition. It’s going to be business as usual for this plant.”

McCall Farms, which produces Southern canned and frozen vegetables, recently announced through the South Carolina Department of Commerce plans add the new Bruce Yams canning line and expand its facility in Florence County. The $19.3 million expansion is expected to generate 140 new jobs over the next five years.

In addition, the S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development, a branch of state government, approved a $1 million grant for infrastructure improvements related to the project.

Company officials with McCall Farms were not available Thursday to discuss whether the Wilson plant will eventually close due to the South Carolina expansion and addition of new jobs. A company spokesperson is expected to be available for comment Friday.

McCall Farms was founded in 1838 on a 2,000-acre farm in Effington, S.C. The company operated as a farm until 1954. Original products included tomatoes, okra and corn but additional vegetable lines were added. The company has continued to expand by adding new products and labels, including Margaret Homes and Glory Foods.

Bruce Foods opened in Wilson in 1929 and includes 250,000-square-feet of space in several buildings on its 200 acre property along Charleston Street. The company announced in 2005 a 15,000-square-foot expansion that was part of a three-phase project carried out over three to five years. At the time, the company employed 100 full-time and 250 part-time workers. The $3.8 million expansion was planned to increase the workforce by 52 full-time and 22 seasonal employees. | 265-7818

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