Kraft to close Idaho cream cheese facility in January 2007

by Eric Schroeder
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NORTHFIELD, ILL. — Kraft Foods Inc. on Tuesday said it will close its Rupert, Idaho, manufacturing facility in January 2007 and consolidate production into other Kraft facilities located in Missouri, New York and Wisconsin.

The 54,000-square-foot plant has been making cream cheese since 1967 and string cheese since 2004. The facility opened in 1935.

"As we studied our production capabilities across our dairy plants, we identified potential opportunities to build manufacturing scale for our cream cheese and string cheese products," said Tom Hedge, vice-president of manufacturing for Kraft’s Cheese, Dairy and Foodservice Sector. "We have multiple plants with similar assets that are not fully utilized. We determined that by consolidating production into fewer plants, we would be able to build a stronger platform for growth."

The Rupert closing comes about a month after Kraft unveiled plans to consolidate the production of Knudsen cottage cheese and sour cream into its Tulare, Calif., cheese manufacturing facility and phase down and close its 134,000-square-foot Visalia, Calif., plant in April 2007.

Both moves are part of a larger restructuring program detailed in January. The expanded program includes the closing of 20 production facilities and the elimination of about 8,000 positions by the end of 2008.

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