06/25/10 — Poultry company: Site pick is coming

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Poultry company: Site pick is coming

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 25, 2010 1:46 PM

Sanderson Farms is searching for up to 600 acres north of Goldsboro on which to build a $94 million chicken deboning facility that would employ up to 1,100 people.

Construction could begin next March if the land can be found -- 100 acres for the plant itself and between 400 and 500 acres for a hay spray field, Joe Sanderson Jr., Sanderson CEO and chairman, said in a Thursday telephone interview from his office in Laurel, Miss.

A site has not been selected, he said.

Plans call for the plant to begin operation in June 2012 and to be at full capacity within 15 months after that.

Just down U.S. 70 East in Kinston, progress on the Sanderson facility there is ahead of schedule and most of the growers for that operation have been signed up, Sanderson said.

Sanderson said he is hopeful that when the next round of grower sign-ups begins this fall it will be for the Goldsboro facility.

"We really need two sites, one for the plant and another for the spray field," Sanderson said. "We would like to have one big site, but I don't think we have been able to find that."

A northern site is preferred to make it easier to get the live birds to the plant, he said.

Sanderson said he did not know when a site would be found, but that "we need to get those sites quickly."

The company needs to find the land to begin the permitting process for a well and the spray field, he said. That is particularly true if the company is going to be ready to proceed in March, he said.

The Goldsboro project would consist of an expansion of the feed mill for the Kinston plant, a hatchery, a processing plant with capacity to process 1.25 million "big bird" chickens per week and a wastewater treatment facility.

It was not by chance that the company chose Goldsboro, he said.

"We chose Goldsboro because of its demographics and reputation of the county and city," Sanderson said. "We did a lot of homework before we announced about the plant. We already knew a lot about Goldsboro relative to Kinston and surrounding counties."

Sanderson said the company's development director met with county commissioners and Wayne County Development Alliance officials about their plans.

"Goldsboro, we believe, will be a perfect place for us," he said. "We need to be on the north side because it is a better choice because of the grow-out area."

Sanderson Farms has been a publicly traded company since 1987 and is the fourth-largest poultry company in the country processing 8.1 million chickens a week, he said.

The company did $1.8 billion in sales last year.

"We just released second quarter figures and we had a very strong second quarter," he said.

The company posted net sales of $487 million for the quarter and earnings of $35 million, a record for the company.

"The company is doing very well," he said. "This growth we are planning in North Carolina will increase the size of the company 35 percent. We are very excited about coming to North Carolina -- excited about this area in eastern North Carolina and we are very much looking forward to it."