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Perham egg plant to close

Primera Foods Corporation announced on May 21 that they are closing their manufacturing facility in Perham.

Some 57 employees at the Perham egg processing plant will be affected by the closing.

Ron Ashton, President and CEO of Primera Foods said, "This difficult decision is necessary to keep Primera Foods viable in the highly competitive and volatile egg market."

For Perham, the plant closing not only means a loss of jobs, but also a potentially empty structure in the industrial park.

"They said they may be able to sell part of the facility, but there aren't any details," said Kelcey Klemm, Perham city manager. "They don't want to get our hopes up...and they don't want to make any promises to the city or the employees."

Earlier this year, the company announced the purchase of a facility close to Britt, Iowa. "Strategically," Ashton said, "this is a good opportunity for us to get closer to the source of our primary raw material. Iowa is the top egg-producing state in the country."

There are 54 million laying hens in Iowa, explained Bret Jenkin, Sales and Marketing Manager with Primera Foods. With fuel costs on the rise, the company needed to be closer to an area where they can purchase more eggs.

"In the Perham area, we've had a declining supply of eggs to purchase," continued Jenkin. "We're doing business with one-half of the producers that we were doing business with 10 years ago in Perham." He said that many of the area's egg producers have gone out of business over the past decade.

Ashton said the company will officially close the Perham facility by October 31, 2008, depending on how quickly equipment and operations can be moved. They plan to begin shutting down operations and moving equipment sometime during the summer.

Employees with no opportunity to work at the Perham facility will be provided with a comprehensive separation package, which includes severance pay, health and dental benefit continuation, and outplacement assistance. The company is also providing opportunities for employees to transfer to other facilities. Jenkin said that there is the possibility of employees locating to other plants in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and potentially Iowa as well.

"It is unfortunate to lose those jobs, and it is a significant number for our town," said Klemm. "As a city, we are willing to help in any way to help sell the building, or re-occupy it."

About Primera Foods Corporation:

Primera Foods Corporation is an international liquid egg and dried ingredient supplier to the food industry; the company is headquartered in Cameron, Wisconsin with operations in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In 1986, the company first formed as Primegg, Ltd., a dried egg manufacturer in Cameron, Wisconsin. They were the first company in the egg processing industry to receive a "Superior" ranking in 1989 from American Institute of Baking (AIB). In 1997, the company changed names to "Primera Foods Corporation."

The Perham facility was acquired in 1990. In 2003, the Perham plant earned the first ever AIB Gold Seal Certification awarded to a food company.

Primera Foods uses eggs from Midwestern producers to create value-added egg and ingredient products. By partnering with trusted producers just down the road from their processing facilities, Primera says that they are able to maintain the strict integrity of their egg supply, which in turn helps them ensure the flavor, performance and quality of each and every one of their products.