In 2015, poultry processing firm Bell & Evans officially opened a new processing and packaging facility in Bethel Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, US.

The new facility increased the company’s processing capacity by more than 20%.

The $44m facility is used to package, dry-rub, marinate, grind and cook more than two and half million pounds of chicken every week for restaurants, butcher shops, natural food stores and selective supermarkets. It also processes other poultry such as ducks and hens.

Construction began in July 2014 and was completed in the second half of 2015. The plant created approximately 300 positions for the people of Lebanon County.

Details of Bell & Evans’s Bethel Township chicken plant

Over the next ten years, the plant is expected to contribute $200m to the region and employ 350 people.

The processing and packaging plant covered a 158,000ft² area and was developed on 19.6 acres of land purchased by the company.

Due to its potential impact on the local economy, the project was coordinated by the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team (GAT) in cooperation with the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). In addition, the project received $2.46m in funding from Lebanon County in the form of grants and tax credits.

The new building features packaging lines, a processing line, and cooler and freezer storage facilities. Processing equipment was mostly sourced from the Netherlands and Germany.

Bell & Evans chicken production and processing

“The $44m chicken processing facility is used to package, dry-rub, marinate, grind and cook more than two and half million pounds of chicken every week.”

Bell & Evans produces organic poultry that is certified by Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO), a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) accredited organic certifying agency.

Bell & Evans’ chickens are raised and processed in modern facilities that uses advanced technologies. The chickens are also grown without antibiotics and are placed on a diet of corn and extruded and expeller-pressed soy beans, with added vitamins and minerals and fresh water. This diet is claimed to help to grow tender and flavourful organic chicken.

Bell & Evans’ chickens are also claimed to be raised in humane conditions as the birds are handled in a minimal-stress environment. The antibiotic-free, organic and gluten-free chicken products are seasoned and vacuum packed without the use of any preservatives.

Marketing commentary

Headquartered in Fredericksburg, Bell & Evans is a leading natural foods company that began operation in the 1890s. Its market reach has been significantly expanded after Sechler Family Foods purchased the Bell & Evans brand in 1986.

Bell & Evans currently produces high-quality poultry products, including fresh ready-to-cook and fully cooked varieties, as well as chicken snacks that are supplied to upscale markets.

In addition to the Bethel Township chicken plant, the company also opened a 160,000ft2 hatchery, which is capable of hatching 2.8 million chicks a week at full capacity.