August 10, 2009

New Owners of Agriprocessor Continue to Plan CompanyÕs Future but Old Antagonists are Already Breathing Down Their Necks

New York…Many of the poultry products of Agriprocessor have been turning up in markets where they have not been for nearly 14 months. Agri’s new owners continue to expand the distribution of poultry products in many Jewish markets, including Kansas City where consumers and rabbis alike welcomed the products back. Agriprocessor was bought at auction by SHF Industries, a company formed by Canadian plastics manufacturer Hershey Friedman and his son-in-law, Daniel Hirsch. Friedman owns Polystar Packaging Inc. of Montreal, which is a top maker of plastic packaging for meat. Some of Agri’s old nemeses are already breathing down the necks of the new ownership. Everyone from PETA to Rabbi Morris Allen are looking to meet the new ownership, even as they attempt to gain control of the company and begin operating the company in earnest. A coalition of liberal Jewish and local leaders called the Postville Community Benefits Alliance and are pressing to meet with the new owners to discuss issues such as improving wages for workers. While Agriprocessor produces about 30,000 chickens daily, Mr. Friedman told Mishpacha Magazine that he hoped to get the beef-processing plant up and running again by the High Holy Days. But some sources say that the early pressure from the groups that brought down the old ownership can delay the company’s need to move forward rapidly in an unsettled market.