HAYWARD, Calif. – This past October, officials with Columbus Foods, a processor of Italian-style salame and deli meats, broke ground on a $28 million expansion of its processing plant in Hayward, Calif. Tim Fallon, president and CEO, said the project, which will expand the salame curing and processing area by 55,000 sq. ft., will also result in the company’s older, South San Francisco operation closing in July as that facility’s production will be shifted to the renovated plant. Employees of the 50-year-old plant in South San Francisco will be offered positions at the company’s new facility. Columbus also operates another plant in the San Francisco Bay area, where production will continue. The expansion in Hayward is scheduled for completion in March, according to Fallon.
The consolidation is the result of a partnership Columbus formed in 2014 with Harris Ranch, which is based in the San Joaquin Valley and is the largest cattle feeder, beef processor and beef marketer in California.
“Last year, Harris Ranch built a deli-cooking facility for us in Selma, Calif.,” Fallon said. The joint venture was designed to allow Columbus to expand its branded deli meat production by up to 50 million lbs. The two companies invested more than $10 million in the joint project.
“Basically this was an issue of space,” he said of the partnership. “We couldn’t build a new deli-processing plant or expand it in our existing facility. We could only do the salame in the plant we were in, and that wouldn’t work; we needed more room for the deli.” Meanwhile, Fallon and his team are anxious to have the renovation project at the Hayward facility finished, as the construction has progressed without interrupting processing operations at the plant.
“I’m not doing this myself,” Fallon jokes. “We have a very strong engineering group mapping out this project. But it’s still quite a big deal when we’re running our current business.”
Read more about Columbus Foods and the growing popularity of artisan meat production as part of MEAT+POULTRY’s cover report on the segment, publishing in March.