The rural community of Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania houses fewer than 2,000 people. It also hosts two beautiful new modern European-plus style facilities at the edge of town. They belong to Bell & Evans, a family-owned company, and pioneer of natural and organic chicken with deep roots in Central PA.
Every one of Bell & Evans’ hatching, processing, packaging and shipping facilities are located within a two-mile radius of one another. Bell & Evans owner and visionary, Scott Sechler, purchased another 112-acre lot in 2014, in anticipation of a New Chicken Harvesting Plant build (Plant 3). Ground was broken in October 2017 - the fi rst new build chicken harvesting plant in the northeast United States in the last 40 years. Plant 3 will begin operations in early 2020.
“This is a very exciting time for us,” said Scott. “We’re investing a lot of time and money on innovative equipment and new facilities to grow our business. As our business grows, we look fi rst to our local community, and they have greatly supported us through our expansions.”The Fredericksburg community is grateful for new job opportunities - an estimated 1,800 jobs for people in Central PA. The new multi-building site will also be home to a new wastewater treatment plant, rendering plant, composting building and warehousing facility. Company growth is rapid: 2015 saw Bell & Evans build Plant 2, and in 2017 the company opened its new Chicken Hatchery.
During huge expansion of Bell & Evans’ original Plant 1,in 2005, Meyn was an integral partner. It provided equipment design, with all evisceration, vision grading, scale systems and cut up solutions. Meyn’s most updated equipment, which Bell & Evans believes is by far the best in the market and industry, will now be heavily incorporated into the new build.
Bell & Evans was the first U.S. chicken producer to air chill 100% of its chickens using 100% air chill with a Meyn system. The system will be replicated and even expanded in Plant 3, including more than eight miles of track for the planned four lines of single-level air chill. In contrast to a hybrid method which includes some water baths, 100% air chill produces more fl avorful, natural chicken.
“We’re applying learnings from Plant 1 expansion to the Plant 3 build,” said Scott. “We’ll be utilizing all of the newest systems in Plant 3, and we look to Meyn to once again be our strategic partner in the planning and execution of the state-of-the-art, European-plus style facility and build. We look forward to working with Meyn on the long road ahead, and extend our gratitude to Meyn’s Regional Account Manager Chris Massie, who always displays professionalism and expertise in identifying the best possible solutions to suit our growing businesses needs.”
At full capacity, the 560,000-square-foot plant 3 will process 2.6 million birds per week. It will be a single-story building, providing better efficiency in both build and operations. All materials in the build will be of the highest quality, including pre-cast concrete walls and acid brick fl oors, common to Bell & Evans’ processing facilities.
Bell & Evans is the industry leader and influencer of both innovation and humane animal welfare standards. At its new organic-certified Hatchery, chicks have immediate access to organic feed, fresh water, light and fresh air, and endure no mechanical handling. Unique in the U.S., the facility is completely formaldehyde free and uses only organic-approved disinfectants and cleaners. Plant 3 will mean that production of organic products can expand, which is especially important for two large Bell & Evans retail customers, Wegmans of Rochester, NY, and Whole Foods Market Inc. of Austin, TX.