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SLEEPY EYE — Del Monte Foods announced its intentions on Tuesday to close its 89-year-old plant in Sleepy Eye, one of four plants scheduled to close or be sold off.

“This decision has been difficult and has come after careful consideration,” Joselito D. Campos Jr., Del Mote Pacific Limited CEO, said in a press release.

“This restructuring is a necessary step for us to remain competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace. Our asset-light strategy will lead to more efficient and lower cost operations.”

Campos said the company is doing “all we can” to provide support and resources for affected employees.

The decision means close to 400 workers in Sleepy Eye will be out of a job starting around Oct. 21. About 69 full-time employees and 294 seasonal employees will be affected.

Del Monte said in a written notice to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that the plant will be shuttered in June 2020.

Del Monte donated more than five tons of sweet corn to the public at Sleepy Eye’s annual Buttered Corn Days last weekend, The Star Tribune reported.

The Sleepy Eye plant started in 1930 and produces more canned peas and corn than any of the company’s other plants.

“The closing of Del Monte will have a tremendous impact on the community,” Sleepy Eye Mayor Wayne Pelzel told the Star Tribune. “This will have an impact on the school, on housing, on just a whole ton of things in the community. We are really saddened by this news.”

Pelzel also said the city hopes to help employees find new jobs. The plant’s employees aren’t represented by a union.

Another plant in Mendota, Illinois, also will close, while Del Monte plans to sell off its Cambria, Wisconsin, facility. The company plans to sell manufacturing assets from its Crystal City, Texas, facility and intends to transfer production to other locations later this year.

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