Waseca processing plant to boost local, regional economy

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) - Construction is well underway on a huge vegetable processing plant just outside of Waseca, the largest investment Conagra Brands has ever made in a production facility.

Conagra Brands is spending $250 million to build the 250,000 square foot Birds Eye frozen food plant.

“This is the first vegetable processing facility that’s built brand new in this region in decades, there’s been a lot of plants that have remodeled added on, have closed, but the beauty is this is a brand-new facility that’s going to be around for a long time and that’s a major investment,” GreenSeam Director Sam Ziegler explained.

It will replace the current Bird Eye plant in Waseca as a site for freezing and packaging sweet corn and peas.

“It’s preserving a workforce in Waseca that has been here for a long time, the plant started I believe in 1928,” Waseca Economic Development Director Gary Sandholm said.

Officials say the new plant would retain about 119 full-time jobs and bring in over 200 seasonal jobs.

“It will also contribute to the regional economy as there are 30 thousand acres contracted to this facility for peas and corn throughout the region,” Waseca City Manager Lee Mattson added.

“Their [Bird’s Eye] acres extend all the way down to Des Moines [Iowa], close to the Twin Cities, across western Minnesota, close to eastern Minnesota, so their impact is not just local,” said Ziegler. “For a perspective, 4,100 acres in Waseca County of vegetable processing is equivalent to about $3.86 million in sales in the last Ag Census we had.”

The facility is being built with room for expansion and will contain state-of-the-art vegetable processing equipment

Plans are for the facility to open in June 2022, with production kicking off during the summer 2022 fresh-pack season.

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