Smucker to Upgrade Peanut Butter Production

By Amos Maki

The J.M. Smucker Co. plans to increase investment at its Southeast Memphis facility but will hire fewer new employees than the company promised last year.

Smucker plans to invest an extra $40 million to upgrade its peanut butter production lines at its plant at 4740 Burbank Road, pushing the company’s total planned investment to around $95 million.

“The company needs to increase its production capacity to meet its anticipated growth of its peanut butter products,” Smucker said in an application for a new or revised tax freeze to the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County.

Though the company’s capital investment plans have grown, it now says it expects to hire only 42 new employees, down from the 65 it said it planned to hire when it was granted a 12-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement last year from EDGE. The new employees would have an average annual salary of $52,456.

Last year, Smucker said it planned to invest $55 million at the 135,000-square-foot facility and add 65 new employees to its existing base of 60 workers. Those plans have changed and the company now expects to invest millions more at the Memphis facility.

“As the project was further evaluated, the company expanded the scope of investment and now intends to utilize different processes and technology than originally planned,” the company’s application states. “The Project could include adding new state-of-the-art peanut butter production for its Jif, Laura Scudders, Adams and Smucker’s branded products and retaining the existing jelly production for its Smucker’s Uncrustable sandwiches.”

“These changes will increase the overall investment in real and personal property in Memphis by an additional $40 million,” the application states. “The revised project now requires extensive building modifications as well as additional machinery and equipment.”

For years, Smucker made jams, jellies and syrups at the Memphis plant before announcing in 2010 it planned to close the facility. After receiving the PILOT from EDGE in 2013, the company said it would focus on peanut butter production in Memphis and it began shifting most of its jam and jelly production to its home base of Ohio.

The EDGE board will vote on Smucker’s request at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, 3693 Tyndale Drive.