Pork harvesting facility to add 50 jobs

Gary Malenke, senior vice president of Perdue Premium Pork Operations, touched base on why the pork harvesting facility added a two-story, 50,000-square-foot addition to its north side during the Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce’s Jan. 8 meeting.

SIOUX CENTER—Perdue Premium Meat Co. plans to open its $29 million expansion in February.

Gary Malenke, senior vice president of Perdue Premium Pork Operations, touched base on why the pork harvesting facility added a two-story, 50,000-square-foot addition to its north side during the Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce’s Jan. 8 meeting.

“This is an investment in and implementing of state-of-the-art cutting technology with robotics and computer imaging,” Malenke said, of the project that kicked off in August 2018. “We’ll have the ability to cut meat with tremendous precision while adopting some of the automation systems that are available to us.”

Part of that means an elimination of carcass shipping to Perdue’s Sioux City location.

“What we’ll do instead is break the carcass into primal cuts, which are main pieces — loins, hams, shoulders — and ship some of that product directly to customers,” Malenke said, noting that other parts will continue to go to Sioux City for packaging.

Opening the expansion also adds about 50 jobs to the Sioux Center location, which employs about 200 people.

The expansion comes in the same year Perdue — previously known as Sioux-Preme Packing Co. — will mark its 50th year in business — and the same year Perdue celebrates 100 years.

Malenke said an open house will be scheduled for people to walk through the facility.

Perdue Premium Meat Co. is owned by Perdue Foods, which is based in Salisbury, MD. The national company has more than 20 plants with Sioux Center being Perdue’s only pork facility.

“Perdue’s Sioux Center location focuses on providing niche products such as antibiotic-free, breed specific or organic pork,” Malenke said, noting it produces pork for the Coleman Natural, Niman Ranch and Sioux-Preme brands and has products in stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Sioux Center’s plant at 4241 U.S. Highway 75 processes about 4,500 pigs a day or more than 1.2 million annually, which equates to about 30 trucks of live hog deliveries daily.

The expansion allows the Sioux Center plant to create more case ready product for its customers.

Malenke explained another part of the Sioux Center plant’s processing involves offal products or the harvest of internal organs that support human health needs.

“We save mucosa, which is the lining of the small intestine that’s used for the production of a blood thinner,” he said. “We harvest eye balls for optometry schools, pancreas glands for diabetes control and heart valves for human heart transplant.”

Perdue as a national company sells product across the United States, as well as to Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and various countries in South America.

“I’m continually amazed at the footprint that the plant just south of town here has with product distribution,” Malenke said.

This is not the first time Perdue has invested in the Sioux Center plant. As for April 2019, every kilowatt-hour powering the facility has been derived from wind energy.

“This expansion isn’t changing our processing capacity, just changing what we’re able to do with what we process. And we have more ideas to keep adding on,” Malenke said, noting the business is looking to further expand its case ready operation. That could include adding seasoned pork chops and sausage. “More customers are asking for small cuts, smaller packaging and a higher percentage of individual retail/consumers want ready items.”