Foremost Farms USA announced May 18 that it plans to close its Chilton manufacturing facility in July 2020.

“Manufacturing footprints continually evolve and change over time as the market changes. We are always reviewing our manufacturing network and looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” said Greg Schlafer, president and CEO. “Closing the facility is difficult for us. But in looking at our operations holistically, we don’t think making long-term investments in the plant make strategic sense for our network. We have other plants with upgraded technology and optimized logistics that will drive significant cost efficiencies.”

In addition, the market has changed due to COVID-19. Work order volumes from food service clients have decreased in a short period of time creating product over capacity and a sudden production demand drop.

“We don’t see an immediate bounce back in cheese orders from food service clients serviced by the location,” said Schlafer.

Built in the 1940s, the Chilton plant makes Italian cheeses including Provolone which is sold into the foodservice market for sandwiches.

The 53 employees who work at the location were informed of the company’s plans May 18. The company will be working through the details of a severance package in the coming weeks.

“This is not a reflection on our employees in Chilton,” Schlafer said. “This is a business decision that has nothing to do with their performance, which has been excellent. We are committed to treating our employees with respect and dignity and will be working with them through this transition.”