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Pilgrim's Pride Corp. finalized the purchase of St. Cloud-based GNP Co. and immediately laid off 30 people at GNP's central Minnesota headquarters.Pilgrim's, based in Greeley, Colo., bought the St. Cloud maker of Gold'n Plump and Just Bare chicken products,...

Pilgrim's Pride closes GNP purchase, lays off 30 people

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. finalized the purchase of St. Cloud-based GNP Co. and immediately laid off 30 people at GNP's central Minnesota headquarters.Pilgrim's, based in Greeley, Colo., bought the St. Cloud maker of Gold'n Plump and Just Bare chicken products,...

Pilgrim's Pride closes GNP purchase, lays off 30 people

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. finalized the purchase of St. Cloud-based GNP Co. and immediately laid off 30 people at GNP's central Minnesota headquarters.

Pilgrim's, based in Greeley, Colo., bought the St. Cloud maker of Gold'n Plump and Just Bare chicken products, for $350 million. Bill Lovette, Pilgrim's chief executive, said in a statement that the company does not "anticipate significant workforce changes going forward" and that these cuts were redundant positions.

Company spokesman Cameron Bruett declined to elaborate on Wednesday.

Brazil-based JBS S.A. is the world's largest meat processor by sales and Pilgrim's majority owner. In the U.S., Pilgrim's is the second-largest chicken producer, processing nearly 142 million pounds of chicken a week before this acquisition. GNP ranks 19th in U.S. size, processing just under 9 million pounds of chicken a week, according to PoultryUSA. Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is the nation's leader with 175 million pounds of chicken leaving its facilities each week.

Pilgrim's gains three production facilities — in Cold Spring, Minn., Luverne, Minn., and Arcadia, Wis., — as well as GNP's geographic dominance in the Midwest and its natural and organic offerings developed in recent years. Last year, GNP announced it will eliminate the use of antibiotics in its chickens over the next four years.

"Combining the strengths of both Pilgrim's and GNP will create increased opportunities for the GNP team and improve Pilgrim's market position in high margin chicken segments, such as organic and no antibiotics ever," Lovette said.

GNP was founded as a hatchery by E.M. Helgeson in 1926. The company was owned by Helgeson descendants until 2013 when it was sold to Maschhoffs LLC, one of the nation's largest hog producers, for an undisclosed sum. Maschhoffs was aiming to diversify beyond pork and invested $35 million to expand the Cold Spring facility.

"We look forward to growing the business," Lovette said.

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