SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Tyson Foods Inc. announced that it recently opened a new $355 million bacon production facility in Bowling Green, Ky.

The company said the plant was built to support a significant expansion in bacon production capabilities, capitalize on category leadership and increase the market for its products.

The company expects the 400,000-square-foot facility to produce 2 million lbs of bacon a week for the Wright Brand and Jimmy Dean bacon brands.  According to Tyson, bacon represents more than $1 billion in sales across retail and foodservice for the company.

The new plant is expected to create nearly 450 jobs in Kentucky. Tyson began production during November 2023 and currently runs two shifts in Bowling Green.

“Our innovative new plant in Bowling Green reflects a major investment that we are proud to make in southcentral Kentucky,” said Donnie King, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods. “This enables us to focus on the health and safety of our team members while also delivering best in class service for our customers.”

Tyson Foods stated that it selected Bowling Green in part for its proximity to raw materials in the pork supply chain and inbound and outbound transportation lanes to support the company’s focus on efficiency and operational excellence. The plant will also enable end-to-end profitability by utilizing pork bellies provided primarily by Tyson Foods’ pork segment.

The Bowling Green facility will also feature advanced automation, including high-tech robots that help eliminate ergonomically stressful tasks, such as transporting large pork bellies along multiple production lines, packing and stacking boxes, and safely moving products through production zones with driverless forklifts and autonomous guide vehicles (AGVs).

As part of the plant’s opening, Tyson will partner with Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) to offer relevant technical training, including a robotics lab. 

According to Nielsen data provided by Tyson, Jimmy Dean products represent the fastest-growing retail food brand over the past two years and Wright Brand products rose to the No. 1 consumer choice at retail in the stack category. With the new plant, Tyson sees an opportunity to innovate with new bacon flavors, cuts and products like fully cooked bacon.

“Bacon is a growing category based on consumer demand, both at home and at restaurants, and our expanded production will enable us to lead this growth and drive innovation,” said Melanie Boulden, group president of Prepared Foods and chief growth officer for Tyson Foods.

After the opening of the bacon plant, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear commended the project and what it means for the state. 

“The grand opening of Tyson Foods’ cutting-edge facility marks a significant leap in Kentucky’s economic development and job creation efforts,” Beshear said. “This plant embodies our vision for a flourishing Kentucky and symbolizes a new chapter of growth and prosperity in our state, thanks to Tyson Foods’ expansion.”