Today, Nestlé announced that it has reached a conditional agreement with Conagra Brands, the North American packaged foods company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, that will support the manufacturing of Chef-mate® products in Trenton, MO utilizing Nestlé’s proprietary cooked-before-canning (CBC) process. Chef-mate is a leading brand in foodservice sold through Nestlé Professional, the out-of-home division of Nestlé S.A.
Under this agreement, Nestlé will purchase from Conagra Brands the proprietary CBC line along with the factory building. The purchase of these assets will allow Nestlé to implement a focused and lean operation in Trenton while delivering the highest quality manufacturing for the Chef-mate brand. Nestlé will also manufacture certain products for Conagra Brands.
The Chef-mate brand was established in 1967. The product line features authentic comfort food classics like Chef-mate Country Sausage Gravy, Chef-mate Corned Beef Hash, Chef-mate Chili Con Carne and Chef-mate Golden Cheese Sauce. Each product is crafted with the finest ingredients and designed to deliver superior quality and convenience.
In 2016, Conagra Brands announced its intention to close their Trenton, MO factory by the end of May 2018. Nestlé has been engaged in conversation with Conagra Brands, state officials and local officials with the intention of securing future production for Chef-mate at the Trenton, MO facility.
“This announcement by Nestlé could not have come at a better time for the economic future of our community. I’m very excited this will happen and improve the business climate of Trenton and the region. This will help improve the quality of life for all of our citizens,” said Trenton Mayor Nick McHargue.
Nestlé is committed to the Chef-mate brand and the proprietary cooked-before-canning process. This unique process was invented in Trenton, MO in 1964 to address the specific needs of the out-of-home industry that utilize larger #10 cans. Under this process, food is piped under pressure to canning equipment and cooked by steam injection. The steam sterilizes the food without overcooking it and reduces the overall processing time so as to deliver a product with consistent, made-from-scratch taste and color.
According to John Petro, director of Nestlé Professional human resources, “Nestlé plans to start an open hiring process in March. This means that anyone interested can apply, including all current factory employees and we will follow the same hiring policies we employ in all Nestlé locations.”
“We do not know exactly how many employees we will be hiring. However, we expect our needs to be similar to what will exist when Conagra Brands exits the factory, which right now is approximately 135 – 150 employees,” says Andy Darley, Nestlé Professional project manager.
Completion of this agreement is targeted for May 2018 and is subject to the satisfaction of the terms, conditions, and contingencies set forth between Conagra Brands and Nestlé.