COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa –– Tyson Foods, the largest foodservice industry supplier of pepperoni and pizza toppings in the US, plans to spend $48 million to convert its current cooked meats facility at 2101 South 29th Street in Council Bluffs, Iowa, into a dry sausage and pepperoni operation. This plant will become Tyson’s fifth dry sausage and pepperoni operation. It currently operates one pepperoni plant in Kansas, one in Wisconsin and two in Texas.

The conversion will include installing new equipment and product flows, plus a 60,000-sq.-ft. addition. The renovation is part of Tyson’s strategic goal to meet pepperoni and pizza toppings demand.

“This is a major investment we believe will help us maintain our position as a leader in pepperoni production,” said Boyd Bulger, senior vice president and general manager of Prepared Foods for Tyson Foods. “Council Bluffs is the right location for this project because of the existing facility and excellent workforce, its proximity to raw material supplies and the access to interstate highways.”

Operations at the Council Bluffs cooked meats plant, which originally opened in 2001, must be temporarily suspended to complete the project. Tyson plans to start scaling back production in late September, with plans to temporarily close the facility in October. The new pepperoni operation is expected to start-up in spring 2012 after renovations are completed, providing almost as many jobs as the cooked meats plant does now.

Workers currently employed at the cooked meats plant were given a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) informing them of suspension of operations. About 135 of the approximately 170 people employed at the plant will be put on temporary layoff, while the remainder, mostly maintenance and management staff, will remain on the job helping prepare for the new pepperoni operation.

Once the pepperoni plant opens next spring, workers on temporary layoff will be called back, on a seniority basis, for open jobs. Meanwhile, they will continue to qualify for certain company benefits, including health insurance, which Tyson helps fund. The company will also provide information about applying for unemployment benefits. Affected workers also have an option of applying for openings at other Tyson plant locations.

Employees at the company’s other Council Bluffs that produces case-ready beef and pork will not be affected by this project.