Conagra opens new facility to support Birds Eye brand and frozen meals business

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Conagra Brands
Photo Credit: Conagra Brands

Related tags: Conagra, Birds eye, frozen foods

Conagra Brands has opened a new 245,000-square-foot 'state-of-the-art' vegetable and rice processing facility to support its growing frozen foods business and national Birds Eye brand.

Located in Waseca, Minnesota, the new facility replaces a 92-year-old factory and will provide approximately 20% more capacity for processing vegetables with a focus on maximizing automation, efficiency, and food safety.

"The state-of-the-art design and uniquely designed equipment featured in the facility process fresh vegetables in the most efficient and responsible way possible,​" said Ale Eboli, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer at Conagra Brands.

The facility will be able to process up to 120 million lbs of cut and cob corn, 45 million lbs of peas, and more than 20 million lbs of rice on an annual basis while using 25% less water per lb of product than the company's previous facility. Conagra added that peas and corn will come from a local network of farmers who are employing sustainable and regenerative farming practices around water conversation, crop biodiversity, and improved soil health.

"The significant investment in our new facility in Waseca is indicative of the strong opportunity we see in our frozen foods business,"​ said Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer, Conagra Brands. 

Conagra reported a 6% rise in frozen foods sales for Q3 2022 compared to the previous year and a more than 18% increase in retail sales compared to two years ago. By product category, sales of frozen meat substitutes were up 11.8% for the quarter compared to the year prior followed by +11.6% rise in single serve meals, +11.1% for desserts, and +4.9% for multi-serve meals. 

Birds Eye, one of the company's three largest brands alongside Healthy Choice and Slim Jim, posted double-digit growth in Q3 2022 despite "meaningful"​ price increases to the consumer, said Connolly. 

Conagra recently launched a new suite of frozen products under its Healthy Choice, Marie Callender's, Banquet, Frontera, Evol, Bertolli, P.F. Chang's, and Birds Eye Voila! brands to tap into evolving consumer trends around comfort, inspired international flavors, and plant-based nourishment, said Burke Raine, president, frozen and refrigerated foods, Conagra Brands.

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