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Nalley's Chili Plant Relocating

Mon, 12/06/2010 - 3:50am

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Nalley's Fine Foods, a 92-year-old Tacoma institution, is closing its plant here and moving operations to an Iowa factory, the company's owner said Friday.

The plant in a south Tacoma industrial area long known as "Nalley Valley" once produced a wide variety of foods, including pickles and potato chips, but now turns out Nalley's Chili and Brooks Beans.

Mountain Lakes, N.J.-based Pinnacle Foods Group LLC, which owns dozens of nationally known brands, said its acquisition a year ago of Nalley's owner Birds Eye Foods gave it too much capacity for canned meat products and led to the decision to centralize production at its Armour plant at Fort Madison, Iowa. The Nalley brand will be kept after the move, expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

The move is contingent upon final approval of state and local incentives being offered in Iowa, provisions of which are being negotiated, Pinnacle spokeswoman Michelle Weese said. However, she said the deciding factors were that the Midwest plant has the better production capability and is closer to sources for ingredients.

The Tacoma plant's 160 employees will be given the chance to apply for other jobs within Pinnacle. The company also is negotiating with the plant's three unions — the Teamsters, Operating Engineers and Machinists — on the timing of the closure and transition programs for the employees they represent.

Pinnacle said it plans to invest $20 million at the Iowa plant and add 65 jobs to the 430 now there.

Pinnacle, whose other brands include Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Mrs. Butterworth's and Mrs. Paul's, also manages Tim's Cascade Snacks in the suburb of Algona between Tacoma and Seattle. Weese said that plant and its approximately 100 employees are not affected by the Nalley's move.

Nalley's has been part of Tacoma since Marcus Nalley founded his company in 1918.

The 28-year-old Nalley began by selling "Saratoga Chips" — thin slices of potato fried in oil — he made at home. He built his company into a major West Coast food processor, opening his Nalley Valley factory in 1941. The plant long was known for its heady aromas of cucumbers pickling and potatoes frying.

At one time the Nalley label was on more than 1,300 products, including chip dips, salad dressing and canned hash. The company eventually was acquired by larger corporations.

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