170-employee Leprino Foods plant closing in Ravenna

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Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:00 am

RAVENNA, Neb. — The 170 employees at Leprino Foods in Ravenna were told Thursday that the string-cheese plant will close Nov. 8, said Mike Reidy, senior vice present of corporate affairs for Leprino Foods.

Reidy said all 170 employees will be able to work as normal through the Nov. 8 closing. At that point, the plant will be decommissioned.

Reidy said that once the decommissioning has been completed, Leprino Foods officials will work with the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County and Ravenna city officials to find a potential buyer or productive use for the plant.

Reidy said the string cheese from the Ravenna plant was sold to pizzerias, as well as grocery stores and similar retail outlets.

The plant is being closed for several reasons, including declining milk production in the Ravenna area, Reidy said. He said Ravenna’s string cheese production will be transferred to a Leprino Foods plant in Fort Morgan, Colo., where there is a more available and consistent supply of milk.

Reidy said the Fort Morgan plant produces frozen shredded cheese. He said Leprino Foods intends to invest in the Fort Morgan plant so it can switch from making frozen shredded cheese to string cheese, depending on customer demand.

Reidy said the Fort Morgan plant employs 250 people, but employment will not increase because of the addition of string cheese production.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state of Nebraska had 56,000 dairy cattle in 2012, producing nearly 1.19billion pounds of milk valued at nearly $232.5 million.

Nebraska ranked 28th in the U.S. for milk production in 2012.

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