Walmart building plant in Kansas

Walmart building plant in Kansas

Beef-packing to be site’s purpose by Serenah McKay | Today at 7:30 a.m.

FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, a Walmart store sign is visible from Route 28 in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Walmart Inc. is investing $257 million to build a beef-packing plant in Kansas, that state’s governor said Tuesday.

The plant will be Walmart’s first owned and operated case-ready beef facility, a Walmart spokeswoman said.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said the case-ready beef facility in Olathe will create 667 permanent jobs. In addition, building the 330,000-square-foot plant will employ 1,000 people in design, fabrication and construction.

“Walmart’s innovative new facility will support a more prosperous future for Olathe, for the Kansas City metro, and for our state as a whole,” Kelly said.

Kansas Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said the Walmart facility “will provide solid career opportunities for hundreds of Kansas families in addition to benefiting the entire regional economy.”

Work on the plant is scheduled to start later this year, and it’s expected to open in 2025. It will be designed and built by McCownGordon Construction of Kansas City.

Kelly said the facility “will further Walmart’s efforts in creating an end-to-end supply chain for high-quality Angus beef while increasing transparency and capacity in its supply chain to deliver high-quality products for its customers in the Midwest.”

The new plant will process Angus cuts, supplied by Sustainable Beef LLC of Nebraska, into case-ready beef products such as steaks and roasts to be sold in Walmart stores across the Midwest.

David Baskin, Walmart’s senior vice president of deli, meat and seafood, said in a news release that the Olathe facility “is an important milestone for Walmart as we continue to build a more resilient supply chain and identify ways to increase access to high-quality Angus beef for our customers.”

The Bentonville-based retailer announced in April 2019 that it planned to create its own supply chain for Black Angus beef to meet customer demand for transparency about where their meat comes from.

Walmart said at the time that it would continue to buy beef from Tyson Foods Inc. and other suppliers.

Walmart’s all-natural, no-hormone-added beef was initially to be sold as steaks, roasts and rib-eyes in 500 stores in the Southeast.

“Five hundred stores gives us an idea of what this can look like on a large enough scale while still maintaining consistency with the vast majority of our chain,” a Walmart spokesman said.

Scott Neal, senior vice president of meat, said in an April 2019 corporate blog post that to meet customer demand, “we need visibility into every step in the supply chain. So we’re working with best-in-class suppliers to create an end-to-end Angus beef supply chain.”

Then late last year, Walmart bought a minority stake in Sustainable Beef LLC.

Walmart didn’t disclose the amount it invested, but the company said the money would help Sustainable Beef build its own processing center in North Platte, Neb., from which Walmart can source top-quality Angus beef.

That plant, expected to open in 2024, will create more than 800 jobs, Walmart and Sustainable Beef said in a joint news release announcing Walmart’s investment.

The cut, refrigerated beef from the Nebraska facility will supply the Olathe plant, the Walmart spokeswoman said.