Poultry company House of Raeford is shutting down the last of its turkey operations, a move that will put 400 people out of work in Raeford.
The company announced Friday that it intends to close its Raeford cook plant, which cooks turkeys to package and sell in grocery stores, within the next 60 days. In addition, chicken products that now go through the Raeford plant will be shifted to the company’s other plants. Raeford is just south of Fort Bragg in Hoke County.
“There’s nothing good about closing something down and putting people out of work,” said spokesman Dave Witter. “We are hopeful we can sell the plant ... Anyone who buys it would have a ready-made workforce.”
House of Raeford said the closure was triggered by an increase in the cost of its raw material – “minimally processed” turkeys ready for cooking – of more than 250 percent over the past year. Consequently, Witter said, the operation has been unprofitable.
House of Raeford, a family-owned comapany based in Rose Hill, has been increasingly focusing on – and expanding – its chicken-processing operations as it cut back its turkey business.
House of Raeford says it ranks among the nation’s 10 largest chicken processors. After it shuts down the Raeford plant, it will have 5,300 workers, including about 1,800 in North Carolina.
In August 2013, the company closed its turkey slaughterhouse, also in Raeford, eliminating 950 jobs in the process. Also last year, House of Raeford closed its turkey hatchery in Rose Hill and ended its relationship with about 140 turkey farmers in Eastern North Carolina.
At the same time, House of Raeford has purchased two chicken plants over the past 18 months. One, in Mocksville, is expected to eventually employ 400 people. The other, in Atlanta, employs 450 workers.
“We believe vertically-integrated chicken production is our core competency and deserves 100 percent of our attention and resources,” Bob Johnson, president and CEO, said in a statement.
The company said it will provide severance packages to eligible employees and will collaborate with state and local officials to provide “transitional help” for the workers.