Conagra replaces Waseca, Minnesota, processing facility for corn, peas
The new Conagra facility replaces a 92-year-old facility in Waseca and will provide about 20% more capacity for processing vegetables for use in frozen foods.
CHICAGO — Conagra is opening a new vegetable processing plant in Waseca, Minnesota, to process corn and peas, replacing a more than 90-year-old facility.
The $300 million facility, which processes fresh vegetables for Conagra's frozen meals business and Birds Eye food brand, was built with a focus on maximizing automation, Conagra said in a news release on Wednesday, June 29.
"The significant investment in our new facility in Waseca is indicative of the strong opportunity we see in our frozen foods business," Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Conagra Brands said in a news release. "Conagra is committed to investing in innovation across the company, including our supply chain. We are also pleased to make the investment in Waseca, where Birds Eye has a long history."
The peas and corn processed at the new facility come from nearby growers.
Conagra says it is using technology to use real-time data to monitor the nutrient needs of crops to supply the plant. This allows harvesting to sync with the facility's production schedule, so that the vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and sent directly to the new Waseca facility where they are received, washed and frozen within a few hours.
"Our teams looked at every aspect of the facility to identify automation opportunities to improve productivity and modernize food safety practices throughout our operations," Ale Eboli, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer at Conagra Brands said in a news release. "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."
The new facility replaces a 92-year-old facility in Waseca and will provide approximately 20% more capacity for processing vegetables. On an annual basis, the facility can process and produce 120 million pounds of cut and cob corn, 45 million pounds of peas, and more than 20 million pounds of rice.
Conagra anticipates the new 245,000 square foot facility in southern Minnesota to use about 25% less water per pound of product produced than the company's previous facility.
In fiscal year 2021, Conagra's Birds Eye brand generated more than $1.5 billion in retail sales.
Conagra Brands Inc., headquartered in Chicago, also includes food brands such as Duncan Hines, Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's.