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Campbell Soup announces early-retirement option

Campbell Soup is a major employer in Lamar County.
Campbell Soup's production site in Paris recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Campbell Soup Co. said it has started a voluntary early-retirement program for certain U.S.-based salaried employees as part of its efforts to reduce costs, according to a Nasdaq.com report.

Campbell operates a production facility in Paris, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in December 2014. The Paris location, one of three domestic production facilities for the multinational corporation, employs more than 900 people.

The Paris site recently added a $48-million production line, a 76,000-square foot addition to the existing facility. The new line makes ready-to-eat soups that come in packages rather than cans. The Paris facility also makes Campbell’s condensed soups, Prego Italian sauces, Pace Mexican sauces and V8 juices.

Earlier this year, Campbell announced its intent to cut costs in an effort to save about $200 million, or 2% to 3% of annual sales, over a three-year period. Campbell also announced it would reorganize into divisions based on type of product instead of brand or geography.

In a filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on March 30, the company said employees opting to participate in the program will receive enhanced separation benefits. Workers must meet length-of-service and business function criteria. Executive and senior management aren’t eligible for the program, the company said. Campbell expects to complete the program by the end of its current fiscal year, which ends in July.

Campbell stock has gained 4.3 percent this year to date, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 has increased 0.1 percent overall. Major food manufacturers continue to adjust to rapidly shifting global and domestic market dynamics. On March 25, H.J. Heinz Co. announced the acquisition of Kraft Foods Group Inc. in a transaction valued at about $49 billion.

Staff from the Paris facility were not immediately available for comment on the move’s possible impact on the Paris location. Communications staff from Campbell's corporate office in Camden, N.J., pointed out that the majority of workers at the Paris facility are paid hourly and would not be eligible for the program.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.