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Southern Alberta’s Spitz sunflower seed plant to shut down

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One of southeast Alberta's most iconic brands is shutting down its operation in the Bow Island area. The Spitz sunflower seed plant will close later this year as it shifts production to the United States. Matt Battochio reports – Feb 17, 2018

The Spitz sunflower seed plant in southeastern Alberta will close later this year and production will be moving “to an existing contract manufacturer partner in the U.S.,” the plant’s owner, Pepsico, confirmed to Global News in an email on Friday.

“This was a business decision based on an extensive evaluation of the long-term viability of this site and its ability to meet our increasing volume requirements for the brand, which will continue to play an important role in our North American portfolio,” the company said.

The plant is located in Bow Island, Alta. According to Spitz’s website, the product “started in Bow Island, Alberta, with a little company and a great idea about sunflower seeds with a difference.”

The Bow Island/Burdett & District Chamber of Commerce told Global News the plant closure will impact 53 employees.

“We are committed to assisting our impacted associates with financial support, access to financial counselling and job placement services,” Pepsico said.

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The mayor of Bow Island issued a written statement late Friday afternoon in which he said the announcement “has come as quite a shock to us all.”

“Over the approximately 30 years since Tom and Emmy Droog started Spitz, the company became a very important part of our community as an employer and more,” Gord Reynolds said. “The Spitz brand has helped raise the profile of the Bow Island area, and the support given to various community projects and causes over the years has been invaluable.

“After purchasing the company from Tom and Emmy in 2008, Pepsico continued to grow the brand and not too long ago invested more money into the plant, leading us all to believe the future was bright for Spitz at Bow Island.”

Reynolds added that he understands the closure is a business decision for Pepsico and that it is theirs to make, but added “losing a business in a rural region is difficult for the communities involved.”

“For Bow Island and the County of 40 Mile… (it’s a) very significant number of jobs to lose and we will feel the impact, but of course the greatest impact is on those individuals.”

Reynolds said he hopes another company will take over the Spitz plant in order to “get some or all of those jobs back.”

Bow Island is located about 300 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

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