Conagra celebrates 75 years of tomato processing in Dresden

Food processing giant Conagra Brands Inc. celebrates 75 years of tomato processing in Chatham-Kent.

The establishment, which opened on Wellington Street in Dresden in 1947, threw a party on Sunday to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

“It’s special for the community to have a reliable workplace for hundreds of employees, hundreds of families,” said plant manager Simon Hogervost. “It was nice to reflect on the impact the facility has on the community.”

Today, about 175 employees at the Conagra plant work full time. The plant also employs around 225 seasonal workers from mid-August to October during the fresh produce season.

Although the facility is well known for processing tomatoes, Hogervost said that wasn’t the only vegetable the facility processed. The plant processed spinach, asparagus, beets, potatoes and even goblets into jelly for a short time.

“For the past ten years, it’s been strictly tomatoes,” Hogervost said. “Even 20 years before that, the focus really shifted primarily to a tomato processing plant.”

After more than seven decades in the community, Hogervost said it’s hard to meet someone who doesn’t know someone who worked or works at the facility.

“When August rolls around, you hear the tomato carts rolling,” Hogervost said. “It’s part of life in Dresden.

The 75th celebration saw hundreds of employees – past and present – ​​and their families. The event included factory tours, messages from company representatives, speeches, presentations and entertainment for children.

“It was a beautiful day yesterday [Sunday], says Hogervost. “Everyone is just proud of the facility here and it’s an honor to be part of a legacy factory that’s been around forever.”

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