HARRISONBURG, VA — On Feb. 16, organic chicken supplier Farmer Focus annouced the opening of its new 78,000 square-foot state-of-the-art packaging facility in Harrisonburg, VA. The new facility will expand Farmer Focus’ production capacity by up to 100 percent over the next two years, to 650,000 birds weekly. With the expansion, Farmer Focus will grow its list of 73 farm partners to 100 by year's end and double that number in 2023. Additional production capacity, including cold storage space and shipping dock locations, also allows the company to respond to soaring consumer demand. 87 new local jobs have already been created at the facility with more expected in the coming months.
With more than 700 employees, Farmer Focus has achieved over 4 million man-hours without a lost workday injury and a total recordable incident rate of .90, well below the industry standard of 3.5. Accordingly, this new facility, Farmer Focus’ second, will adhere to the strictest safety regulations while investing in best in class technological packaging advancements. For example, JBT Spiral Freezers will allow for more precise chilling of product while six horizontal form filled seal packaging lines from Reiser and a Cryovac bagger will increase packaging efficiency. The facility will also have rooftop hygienic units to improve air quality for plant employees.
“This new facility is a living example of Farmer Focus’ commitment to quality, innovation, safety and culture,” said Bob Bahr, Vice President of Operations of Farmer Focus. “From our technological and automation investments to our design decisions, we prioritized both production efficiency and plant employees’ safety and quality of life. That diligence shows every day on our production floor and speaks to a level of safety that, in my 40-plus year career, I’ve only seen accomplished here at Farmer Focus.”
The company has received Virginia’s Environmental Excellence recognition three years in a row, and this facility will continue to support Farmer Focus’ sustainability initiatives. The facility’s environmental controls for pollution prevention go beyond what most facilities have, including containment of all stormwater; roofed-in recycling and trash area; emission-free rooftop hygienic units; a wastewater pretreatment facility to treat all processed water; and a cardboard reduction and recycling program.
“This plant is an important step in our mission to promote and protect generational family farmers. Today, we have over 100 farmers on our waiting list and a growing consumer demand for our organic, humane and sustainably raised chicken,” said Corwin Heatwole, Founding Farmer and CEO of Farmer Focus. “With the expanded capacity of this plant comes the opportunity to partner with more farmers, the privilege to further partnerships with retailers, and the ability to reach more consumers. I’m so proud of what our team has accomplished with this facility and excited for what’s to come.”
This news is just the most recent indication of Farmer Focus' success. Other noteworthy metrics include:
- In 2021, the Farmer Focus farming family grew by 62%. The company currently works with over 70 family farms, with over 100 more on the waiting list.
- Farmer Focus is the #1 fastest growing natural or organic chicken brand in grocery stores over the 52-week period ending 12.26.21 as indicated by IRI data.
- Farmer Focus is the #2 organic chicken brand in grocery stores over the latest 26-week period ending 12.26.21 as indicated by IRI Sales Data
Founded by sixth-generation farmer Corwin Heatwole in 2014, Farmer Focus is the only 100% organic and Humane Certified chicken company with a mission to promote and protect generational family farms. By shifting farm-level decision-making and chicken ownership back to farmers and empowering them to farm the way they know is best, Farmer Focus significantly improves the financial viability of the farm and farmer profit. Available in 2,500 stores throughout the East Coast and Midwest, including major retailers like Publix, Kroger, Harris Teeter and more, Farmer Focus is committed to consistently producing exceedingly delicious, 100% organic and humanely raised chicken that is better for people, the planet and animals.