Bell & Evans amid construction of organic-certified chicken harvesting facility


Source: Bell & Evans

via The National Provisioner - September 8, 2020


Premium poultry producer Bell & Evans began construction on a new 411,500 square foot, Organic-Certified Chicken Harvesting Facility in Fredericksburg, Pa. The first precast walls were placed in July, and the facility will be operational by late 2021. The project will cost the company approximately $330 million and double its current production capacity.


Bell & Evans produces 100% premium Raised Without Antibiotics chicken and Organic chicken, approximately 60% and 40% of its business, respectively. The additional capacity will allow Bell & Evans to continue expanding its organic production to approximately 50% of total production to meet increasing customer demands. According to this 2019 report by IRI, U.S. organic chicken sales are up 13.1% over a 3-year average, while Bell & Evans experienced 69.9% organic growth over that same period.


Bell & Evans is sold nationally at premium health-food markets and upscale retailers including Whole Foods Market, Wegmans Food Markets, Roche Bros. Supermarkets, Lunds & Byerlys, and Publix, among others. You can also find Bell & Evans branded chicken on the menus of the best restaurants in the country.


The new “European-Plus” Chicken Harvesting Facility is being built from the most durable and highest quality materials and finishes for food safety and longevity. The entire operations area will be constructed with Thermomass precast concrete exterior walls that provide superior thermal rating. All production floors will have acid brick flooring to hold up against corrosion, and freezer floors will be insulated with six inches of extruded polystyrene to prevent frost heave. There will be no wood utilized in any production areas nor any painted surfaces in processing spaces. The interior sides of the precast walls are white concrete to offer a bright environment for production team members, and many areas of production will have windows to the outside to allow in natural light.


“I have been all over the world, including Europe dozens of times, visiting poultry operations and suppliers,” said Bell & Evans Owner Scott Sechler. “I have a really good grasp of what’s out there, and I like to take the best practices I find and make them even better to fit our Bell & Evans model. In Europe, producers have the right mindset. They build to last. I describe our project as ‘European-Plus’.”


Animal welfare continues to be top priority for Bell & Evans. The New Harvesting Facility will include upgrades to an already superior live receiving area. An innovative automated transport system eliminates the use of fork trucks to off-load drawers of chickens from transportation into harvesting. An upgraded Slow Induction Anesthesia system will also be utilized in the new facility, modeled after the version Bell & Evans pioneered in 2011 that received great praise from leading animal welfare advocates.


At Bell & Evans, sustainability is largely considered in every aspect of construction and operations. The entire new Chicken Harvesting Facility will operate from a fully computerized utility system that ensures water and energy efficiency and reusage. State-of-the-art processing equipment from Marel and an upgraded 100% Air Chill system will dramatically reduce water usage in the plant. Sanitation systems will utilize hot water generated by waste heat at the Organic Rendering Plant, offsetting daily carbon production and reducing the use of a boiler system. The use of hot water instead of chemical agents is an important aspect of organic certification. Additionally, Bell & Evans recycles water from its onsite wastewater treatment plant to wash live haul transportation components.


The new Organic-Certified Chicken Harvesting Facility is being financed with the first green loan in U.S. poultry, provided by Rabobank. Bell & Evans is committed to environmental, sustainable and humane-welfare practices in accordance with the Green Loan Principles.


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