LAFAYETTE — The South Carolina company that in late 2013 purchased several canned vegetable product lines from Bruce Foods, including the Bruce’s Yams brand, will close a canning facility near New Iberia and lay off more than 100 workers, most of them seasonal employees.
McCall Farms, based in Effingham, South Carolina, last week announced the planned closure of the plant in Lozes, which is near New Iberia. The company also will close a canning facility in Wilson, North Carolina. Both plants were part of a package that McCall Farms purchased from Bruce Foods in December 2013 for an undisclosed sum.
Both companies are privately held.
McCall Farms spokeswoman Annie Ham on Friday cited “current business conditions” as the reason for the plants’ closures. Ham told KATC-TV that operations at the Lozes and North Carolina plants would be transferred to South Carolina.
Ham was unavailable for comment Monday, and a message left seeking comment from other McCall Farms representatives was not returned.
Mike Tarantino, Iberia Industrial Development Foundation director, told The Advocate on Monday that the Lozes plant employed 37 full-time employees and fewer than 100 seasonal workers. He said officials with the Louisiana Workforce Commission last week deployed a “rapid response team” to help the workers get ready to find new jobs.
“It was certainly bad to hear the news that McCall Farms is closing the Lozes canning plant,” Tarantino said.
Tom Guarisco, spokesman for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said Monday that McCall Farms employees have received job-search assistance and instructions on how to apply for unemployment benefits. He said further meetings with employees are scheduled at LWC Business and Careers Solutions Centers in New Iberia and Lafayette.
J.S. “Si” Brown, Bruce Foods president and chief executive, said in early 2014 that the company sold its Bruce’s Yams and Southern Vegetable product lines.
He said Bruce Foods, an 86-year-old company that Brown’s family bought in 1974, would concentrate on growing other product lines. Those products include Louisiana Hot Sauce and Louisiana Gold, which are bottled at a plant in New Iberia. In Texas, Bruce Foods makes Mexene Chili and Cajun Injector marinades.
Bruce Foods operates a New Iberia bottling plant for its sauces, and an El Paso, Texas, facility that processes refried beans and chili products.
McCall Farms began operations in 1838. It cans and distributes food grown on the farm’s 2,000 acres and also 13,000 acres of other farmers’ land in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.