Cargill is investing $111 million to convert its Columbus, Neb., ground beef plant to a cooked meats facility and relocate current ground beef production to existing processing facilities at Butler, Wis., and Forth Worth, Texas.

The converted plant will give the company capabilities it currently does not possess to produce specific types of cooked meat products. The conversion will begin early December 2015, with cooked meat production scheduled to start in mid-2016.

“This project, especially the investment we’re making in Columbus, is significant and exciting, and it represents our long-term commitment to current and future Cargill customers, as well as to the community,” says John Niemann, president of Cargill Turkey and Cooked Meats, Wichita, Kan.

Approximately $27 million will be carved out of the total funding package for investment in the company’s ground beef plants at Butler and Fort Worth, where additional new production lines will be installed. The new lines will increase overall capacity, improve efficiency and enhance the company’s capability to service Cargill foodservice customers.

“These changes will better position us to serve a variety of Cargill customers while enhancing our ability to provide them with products and support their value,” adds Chris Roberts, president of Cargill Value Added Protein, also based in Wichita, Kan. “Our focus is on doing whatever is required to help grow our customers’ businesses by meeting consumers’ needs, which in turn, will help us grow our business. This is a win-win for our customers, Cargill and the community, and something we believe is important for us to do to maintain our competitive edge in the marketplace going forward.”

Of the 250 positions currently at the Columbus facility, approximately 80 will be impacted when the conversion begins in December. When the Columbus cooked meats plant is fully operational in 2017, it will employ approximately 250 people—the same number of people now working at the ground beef patty plant.