ATLANTA -- Gold Kist Inc. will mark the official opening of a $30 million expansion of its poultry processing plant in Guntersville, Ala., with a ribbon-cutting celebration on September 26, 2006 at 10 a.m., featuring Alabama Governor Bob Riley as keynote speaker.

Joining the governor will be Gold Kist President and CEO John Bekkers, Gold Kist Northeast Alabama Division Manager Wendell Shelton and Guntersville, Ala., Mayor Robert L. Hembree Jr.

The 80,000-square-foot expansion project significantly increases Gold Kist's capacity to produce value added products for its private label retail customers. Approximately 200 jobs will be added to the facility as a result of this project, which will bring the total number of employees at the facility to 1,450. Around 200 local family farmers supply the chickens processed at Guntersville plant.

The expansion provides space for new packaging equipment for production of the Gold Kist Fridge-to-Freezer Pak(TM), which was introduced last year in Costco Club Stores. This innovative package is in response to consumers' demand for more convenient products. The new package divides fresh chicken parts, such as boneless skinless breasts, into small individual vacuum-sealed pockets. The leak-proof pockets can be easily separated so that unused portions can be refrigerated or frozen without additional handling or rewrapping.

In addition, the expansion includes administrative office space, employee welfare and training facilities and two additional coolers, which will store approximately 650,000 pounds of product. The coolers will operate in conjunction with the plant's state-of-the-art robotic product inventory and order processing system, which ensures quick assembly of customers' orders and proper product rotation.

Gold Kist purchased the Guntersville processing plant in 1971 from the Pillsbury Company and purchased the feed mill from Ralston Purina in 1976.

Gold Kist is the third-largest chicken company in the United States, accounting for more than 9 percent of chicken produced in the U.S. in 2005. Gold Kist operates a fully-integrated chicken production business that includes live production, processing, marketing and distribution. Gold Kist's operations include nine divisions located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

SOURCE Gold Kist Inc. via PR Newswire.