Cal-Maine invests in specialty egg products venture

RIDGELAND, MISS. — The board of directors at Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. approved a strategic investment in MeadowCreek Foods, LLC, a new egg products manufacturing company.

Located in Neosho, Mo., the new entity will focus on hard-cooked and extended shelf-life egg products. Cal-Maine will capitalize MeadowCreek with up to $18.5 million in debt and equity to purchase property and equipment and to fund working capital. It will retain a controlling interest in the venture and will supply the company with specialty and conventional eggs.

MeadowCreek’s marketing plan will expand Cal-Maine’s reach in the foodservice and retail channels while opening new opportunities in the restaurant, institutional and industrial food products arena, said Dolph Baker, chairman and chief executive officer of Cal-Maine Foods. The Ridgeland, Miss.-based company produces and distributes fresh shell eggs, including conventional, cage-free, organic, pasture-raised, free range and nutritionally enhanced eggs.

“We are pleased to announce our strategic investment in MeadowCreek, which provides Cal-Maine Foods an opportunity to not only grow our presence in the egg products sector but position ourselves to better seek out solutions for economically feeding a growing world population,” Mr. Baker said. “While approximately 30% of produced eggs are currently directed to further processing in the United States, as specialty eggs become more popular, we see the demand for more specialty egg products, including cage-free products, to provide for industrial, food service and retail needs. We believe MeadowCreek will play an important role in meeting this demand.”

The new company’s management team will be led by Ronald B. Bennett, a 30-year veteran of the egg industry, who will serve as president of MeadowCreek. Mr. Bennet launched his career in Cal-Maine’s egg products division in 1991. He also was chief operating officer at Prime Foods and director of egg products at Moark, LLC. He joins MeadowCreek from DeJong Operational Management & Consulting, where he developed operational improvements for ready-to-eat food and biotechnology companies.

“We look forward to our partnership with Ronald and his operations team in support of this venture,” Mr. Baker said.

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