Tyson invests $180M to expand Illinois prepared foods plant

Tyson Foods broke ground on a $180 million expansion of its Caseyville, Illinois, prepared foods facility, aimed at boosting production of its Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean grab-and-go snacking and breakfast items.

The 170,000-square-foot expansion includes adding seven new production lines, increasing automation and creating 250 new jobs at the plant. The first line is slated to go into production this fall. Tyson expects the entire project to be complete in summer 2023.

“With automated warehousing and robotics at the heart of the project, we’re looking forward to its full completion,” said Tyson’s Noelle O’Mara, group president of prepared foods.

Within prepared foods, Tyson has been especially active in launching new products around snacking and breakfast. Last September, it entered the kids snacking segment with the launch of Hillshire Farm Snacked. The snack packs each contain a meat — pepperoni, salami or turkey — as well as a cheese. It joins other snack options in its portfolio including Any’tizers chicken appetizers.

And for Jimmy Dean, Tyson has added plant-based options, as well as a snack offer for breakfast: Breakfast Nuggets, breaded pieces of seasoned meats, eggs and cheese.

The Caseyville facility currently has 293 employees. Tyson Foods had recently raised their total compensation, including boosting hourly wages to at least $21 an hour.

The meat company has been on a tear of plant expansions and hiring this past year. In Tyson’s most recent earnings call this past May, CEO Donnie King said it planned to launch about 10 projects to expand capacity for the third quarter, representing 25 million pounds of volume for prepared foods alone.

Most recently, Tyson announced a $90 million project to increase capacity at its chicken processing plant in Forest, Mississippi. The expansion, which includes adding automation, would create more than 320 jobs.