Mike Hornick(UPDATED COVERAGE, 3 p.m.) River Ranch Fresh Foods is closing its Salinas, Calif., processing plant and moving those operations to Taylor Farms’ foodservice and retail salad facilities in the same city.
River Ranch Fresh Foods and Taylor Farms are subsidiaries of Taylor Fresh Foods Inc.
River Ranch notified about 300 employees May 11 of the planned closure of its 44,000 square-foot plant at 1085 Abbott Street, which processes value-added salad and leafy greens products.
“Some of the production has already started transitioning to Taylor Farms, and the last of the lines should be moved by the end of this week,” Kim St. George, River Ranch director of marketing, said May 14.
“Our hope is that the majority of the employees will be picked up by Taylor Farms,” she said. “They won’t have the people to run all of our value-added salads and vegetables. We’ve been working with Taylor and our union, Teamsters local 890, on that.”
Sales staff are unchanged and all River Ranch products will continue to be shipped out of the company’s Salinas docks and cooling facility.
“It really should be seamless for our customers,” St. George said of the move. “River Ranch is still a viable operation servicing our customers like we always have, shipping everything out of our docks with the same services we’ve had in the past.
“Our products will be produced in newer facilities,” she said. “Taylor Farms opened up their new retail facility last spring.”
The closing plant is about 20 years old and needs renovating, she said, but no timeline is set.
“We’re looking to upgrade and modernize that, but it is a long process,” St. George said.
The decision to close was not affected, she said, by a March 27 letter from the Food and Drug Administration citing damaged concrete floors and standing water in parts of the plant. The letter outlines findings of an October 2011 FDA inspection that followed a voluntary recall of River Ranch bagged lettuce.
That recall was prompted by a random sampling in Ohio that tested positive for listeria. The FDA found listeria in samples taken at the plant, according to the letter. No illnesses were reported in connection with the recall or the inspection.