Hermiston will lose one of its top employers by the end of this year.
Hermiston Foods Incorporated, a subsidiary of NORPAC Foods, will close later this year as its functions are consolidated into NORPAC’s facilities in Brooks and Quincy, Washington. An exact timeline has not been announced, but NORPAC spokeswoman Amy Wood said processing will proceed as normal through the end of the current harvest season.
The vegetable-processing plant is Hermiston’s ninth-largest employer, according to the city’s 2016 financial report. NORPAC was not able to provide information about its number of employees and other questions submitted on Monday, but according to the city’s report the plant employs 325 people, most of which are seasonal.
The plant, however, is NORPAC’s smallest operation, according to the Statesman Journal.
The closure was listed as part of a broader announcement by NORPAC that it has sold off its canning operations to Seneca Foods Corporation and was closing its beet-canning facility in Salem as a result. New NORPAC CEO Shawn Campbell said in a statement that the sale of the canning operations and the closure of Hermiston Foods will “help us drive efficiencies and reduce operational complexities as we invest in continued growth and innovation in our frozen product lines.”
Hermiston Foods opened in April 1990, and the Hermiston Herald reported that more than 3,000 people toured the new $9 million facility during the grand opening, where NORPAC executives praised the Hermiston Development Corporation, city of Hermiston and other partners for working together so quickly to get the infrastructure in place to allow NORPAC to locate there.
City Manager Byron Smith said it was unfortunate to hear that one of Hermiston’s large employers would be closing its doors. Hermiston Foods is the city’s largest water customer at 115,047,200 gallons per year, which is more than the next nine water customers combined. However, Smith said there were still so many other users on the system that it was still a small enough percentage that the impact would be felt but would not be “huge.”
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.