Hutchinson food plant closes with layoffs

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KAKE) -

Friday morning employees at the CHS plant in Hutchinson got news they didn't want to hear.  According to a company news release, the plant manager told them the plant would be closing immediately, resulting in 77 employees being laid off.

CHS is a farmer-owned cooperative with headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota.  CHS operates in energy, grain and food segments. The Hutchinson plant produced a branded textured soy protein called Ultra Soy. 

Company spokeswoman Annette Degnan said, "It was an ingredient used by leading food service and food manufacturers as a nutritional supplement in processed foods containing meat and snack bars and the very popular health foods. Ultra Soy helped food manufacturers extend meat, which reduced meat and seafood costs while also adding protein and enhancing the food's nutritional profile." 

But Degnan said CHS did a review of all its businesses earlier this year. Based on that review, the company decided to close facilities in Hutchinson, as well as two others in Iowa and Minnesota. Degnan said, "Through that process, it was determined that the Hutchinson plant is outside CHS' core competencies and that it does not align strategically or leveraged capabilities with other CHS commodity based core businesses."

Degnan said, "CHS certainly acknowledges that this decision has a very hard impact on employees and customers in the communities and we're committed to making this transition as smooth as possible for them."

She said eligible employees will be given severance packages.  

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