Moultrie Observer

Local News

October 19, 2012

National Beef loses Walmart contract

Development officials expect no change at Moultrie plant

MOULTRIE — Despite the loss of business with the nation’s largest retailer, National Beef Packing Co. expects no disruptions at its Moultrie meat processing facility, officials said Friday.

The company had anticipated a change in its relationship with Walmart, for which at one time National Beef produced case-ready beef, hamburger and pork. It had made contingency plans, said Darrell Moore, president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority.

Moore said he had talked with a former plant official but had not discussed the issue directly with the company.

With more than 400 employees, National Beef is one of the largest private employers in the county.

“They’re transitioning to other retailers,” Moore said. “It shouldn’t have any impact on local employment. It should be business as usual.”

Moore said he understood that the situation was not unexpected and the company has been working for several years to diversify its customer base.

“In the next few months they’re going to be trying to bring in new customers and decrease what they’re selling to Walmart. I know they’ve had a couple of (companies) come in in the last couple of years. They have several grocers they’re talking with.”

National Beef opened the Moultrie plant in 2001 as National Beef Case Ready with the assistance of a $1.5 million grant from the state’s OneGeorgia fund. Production began with about 120 employees and after a half-dozen expansions grew to more than 450.

“It shouldn’t have any negative impact on employment,” Moore said of the ongoing changes.

In an email response sent Friday afternoon Keith Welty, vice president of marketing for National Beef, said that Moore’s assessment of the situation is accurate.

“There’s no danger of them shutting down here,” said Marion Hay, development authority board chairman. “From what we were told, there won’t be any cutbacks or slowdowns.”

National Beef’s contribution to the area economy includes $11 million in annual payroll and payments to local contractors and vendors.

 

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