© 2020 Iowa Public Radio
IPR20012_Website_Header_Option2_NewsNavy.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Several stations are off-air due to storms. Click here for the current list.
IPR News

New Owner Takes Over Former Tyson, Iowa Food Group Processing Plant In Northwest Iowa

tyson_cherokee_sept_2018.jpg
Katie Peikes/IPR file
Lopez Foods has bought the Cherokee processing plant idled in April by Iowa Food Group, and formerly owned by Tyson Foods. Lopez expects to reopen the plant in the spring.

A northwest Iowa food processing plant that was idled last spring has been bought by a new owner.
Oklahoma-based Lopez Foods, Inc. bought the Cherokee food plant formerly owned by startup Iowa Food Group. Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Bill Anderson said filling this plant with a business is important to the county.

“It’s a 250,000 square foot facility. Wilson Foods opened in 1965, had a long history of employing families in our community, quite frankly, and other communities outside of Cherokee County,” Anderson said. “It has been a priority for our office and really for the citizens of Cherokee County.”

Anderson said Lopez Foods is in the construction phase and expects to reopen the plant in early spring with a workforce of 35 to 50 people and the potential to grow with time.

Forty people worked at Iowa Food Group before it paused production in April, Anderson said.

“Our No. 1 priority was taking care of those employees, taking care of that workforce,” Anderson said. “Now with Lopez Foods moving into that facility, we want to assist in helping them repopulate the facility with the workforce.”

Before Iowa Food Group started up production last January, the plant sat unoccupied for four years. Tyson Foods was the previous owner and employed more than 200 people around the time it closed, Anderson said. 

At one point, Tyson was considered one of the largest employers in Cherokee.

Iowa Food Group announced the purchase of the former Tyson plant in September 2018. The startup planned to further process and package proteins like beef, pork and chicken. Initially, it planned to start off with 50 to 100 employees and grow to over 400

In early April, Iowa Food Group announced it passed a food safety audit with an A+ score within just a few months of occupying the facility. The company then paused production to “recapitalize the company in preparation for the next stage of operations and growth.” Lopez Foods purchased the plant in July.

According to Lopez Foods’ website, the company produces beef, pork and chicken products for McDonald’s.

Lopez Foods did not return a request for comment. Mack Zimmerman, one of the partners of Iowa Food Group, also did not respond to a request for comment.