Thursday, December 14, 2023
AUBURN, Ind. – Auburn Mayor Mike Ley along with a small group of local residents recently traveled to Coldwater, Michigan to visit the Clemens Food Group state-of-the-art pork processing facility.
Ley said the nearly two-hour tour of the 600,000 square-foot facility was “highly interesting.”
Ley took a similar trip to Orland earlier in his administration to tour the Miller Poultry facility.
The trip north was an opportunity to simply “understand how things work.”
A lifetime in the construction trade has given Ley an inquisitive nature. His interest in the pork industry and the process also comes from hands-on-experiences.
“Growing up in rural Noble County on the family farm, I had the opportunity to witness animals being butchered from an early age,” he said. “It was interesting to see the contrast of how animals were butchered on family farms, to how it is accomplished with state-of-the-art technology.”
Each February Ley helps of group of Amish families living in northern Allen County butcher swine on the Amish family farm.
“Knowing what it takes to process the hogs on the Amish farm, it is amazing to see how 11,000 to 15,000 are processed a day,” Ley said. “It was unimaginable.”
Accompanying Ley on the visit was Pete Lengacher, Steve Fetters, Joe Hughes, plant manager, Jim Ley and Dave Cserp II.
Clemens Food Group, a family-owned business, is rooted in over 100 years of operation. The 600,000 square foot facility in Coldwater, Michigan began production in September 2017 and cost nearly $330 million.
The Coldwater facility, which employs approximately 1,767 employees produces ribs, loins and hams for Hatfield, Farm Promise, Premium Reserve and Prima Porta.
Depending on the season the product line at the facility changes. Currently in preparation for the Christmas holiday the production of bone-in hams has ramped up. The remaining pork products are shipped to the Clemens Hatfield North facility in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. The Hatfield location has the capacity to produce 100 million pounds of cooked and smoked pork products.
The Coldwater facility has the capacity to butcher 17,000 head of swine daily. Upon arriving at the facility, the swine are contained in pens, which meet the highest standards of animal welfare. The staff includes five FDA inspectors and a veterinarian on staff during the production cycle.
Ley said the facility is filled with stainless steel machinery and conveyors, which are immaculate.
“The facility is very clean, and employees are constantly disinfecting equipment,” he said. “I was amazed that no pig smell could be detected while onsite.”
The swine are butchered with several different processes including ban saws, knives, and a water jet system.
Ley said the cut of the water jet system was almost instantaneous. All swine bred for the facility are raised to 290-305 pounds to keep the consistency of the process.
Ley has one more trip planned before he leaves office, a visit to Homestead Dairy, in Plymouth later this month.