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Hillshire Brands

$1,200,000 Contract Amount

Illinois-based processed foods manufacturer Sara Lee opened a new sliced meat processing plant in Kansas City, Kansas, US, in June 2011. The plant is the 11th meat processing unit operated by Sara Lee in the US.

The project was undertaken as a public private partnership (PPP) between the county and the manufacturer. It required an investment of $140m. Sara Lee termed it the company’s biggest investment in the recent past.

The plant will employ about 250 people.

Sara Lee meat products

“The new Sara Lee plant will produce deli luncheon meat for its premium brands.”

The new sliced meat processing plant will produce deli luncheon meat for Sara Lee’s premium brands, including Hillshire Farm® and Sara Lee® Deli.

Value-added meats are one of the long-term growth drivers and top strategic priorities for Sara Lee. The company believes that the Kansas plant will further strengthen its competitive advantage in these foods, enabling Sara Lee to provide its customers with the most cost-effective, safest and highest quality luncheon meat, according to CJ Fraleigh, CEO of Sara Lee North America.

Kansas site

The site of Sara Lee’s new meat processing plant originally housed the bacon and sliced meat plant of meat packing company Swift, which is now operating under the new name JBS. The plant was later sold to ConAgra, which in turn sold it to Sara Lee.

The old plant, which measured 187,000ft², was completely renovated to create the new facility. The new plant measures 200,000ft².

“The Kansas plant is the 11th meat processing unit operated by Sara Lee in the US.”

Capacity of the Sara Lee sliced meat processing plant

The installed capacity at the Kansas plant makes up 60% of the total luncheon meat production capacity of Sara Lee. It will account for approximately 50% of the Hillshire Farm® branded meat sold by the company and thus be the primary location for processing and packaging the Hillshire Farm® meat. The brand contributes $1bn in revenue to Sara Lee.


The processing systems installed in the new plant have been engineered to decrease the required manpower and processing time by 50% when compared to conventional manufacturing. A packaging line, auto-palletiser and warehouse are integral to the plant.

Technology and processing

“Construction of the Sara Lee meat processing plant finished in 2011.”

The Kansas plant features advanced processing facilities. Contamination of beef, pork and poultry, from raw material input to delivery of the finished product, is prevented with the use of robotic systems that avoid human touch throughout all processing phases.

All the processes including de-boning, cutting, slicing and packaging of meat are carried out using robotics.

The use of robotics not only saves manpower cost, but also reduces the incidents of human injuries which is a high probability in meat processing plants.