Jennie-O Turkey Store’s Benson Avenue plant in Willmar to close

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WILLMAR—The Jennie-O Turkey Store plant located on Benson Avenue just west of downtown Willmar will be closing in the first half of fiscal year 2022, according to a news release from Hormel Foods, which owns Jennie-O.

The news comes as Hormel reports double-digit sales growth in every segment of the business in the fourth quarter.

The release said that team members at the plant on Benson Avenue will transition to the Willmar Avenue plant, which is both newer and larger than the Benson Avenue location. Production that is currently done at the Benson Avenue plant will be consolidated into multiple Jennie-O plants.

The Benson Avenue plant was built in the 1940s and purchased by Earl B. Olson, the founder of Jennie-O Foods, in 1949. It was Olson’s first turkey processing plant, and the business was originally called Farmer’s Produce Company, according to the company’s website.

In 1953, Olson renamed the brand of turkeys processed at the plant to Jennie-O, after his daughter Jennifer. The plant was also converted to a USDA-inspected turkey plant. The company name was changed to Jennie-O Foods Inc. in 1971. The company was purchased by Hormel Foods Corporation in 1986.

The Benson Avenue plant underwent a remodel in 1992 and a new packaging area was added, according to Hormel’s media department. The Willmar Avenue plant and the company’s corporate offices were constructed in 1973, the website said.

The company didn’t become Jennie-O Turkey Store until 2001, when Hormel purchased The Turkey Store Company, which was originally founded by Wallace Jerome in 1941. The company was based in Barron, Wisconsin. Hormel then merged Jennie-O Foods and the Turkey Store Company into Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Read the full article by the West Central Tribune.

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