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SACRAMENTO - Campbell's Soup Company announced early Thursday morning it would be closing its Sacramento plant, putting at least 700 full-time employees out of work.

A release issued by Campbell's on Thursday stated the following reasons for the closure:

"A number of factors have resulted in excess capacity in Campbell's U.S. thermal manufacturing network, including significant productivity improvements, volume declines of U.S. canned soup and an increased focus on new packaging formats which are often produced under co-manufacturing agreements. As a result, the company is taking the following actions:

Closing the Sacramento, Calif., plant, which currently produces soups, sauces and beverages. Built in 1947, the Sacramento plant is the oldest in Campbell's U.S. network and has the highest production costs on a per-case basis. The plant has approximately 700 full-time employees. Campbell will close the facility in phases, with plans to cease operations by July 2013. The company plans to shift the majority of Sacramento's production of soups, sauces and beverages to its remaining three thermal plants in Maxton, N.C.; Napoleon, Ohio; and Paris, Texas.

Closing the South Plainfield, N.J., spice plant. Campbell currently operates two spice plants that supply ingredients to its U.S. thermal plants. Opened in 1964, the South Plainfield plant employs 27 people. The company will close the facility by March 2013. Campbell will consolidate spice production at its larger Milwaukee plant."

Campbell's stated they plan to employ approximately 2,100 people in California following the closure of the Sacramento plant.

In addition to Sacramento, Campbell's also has facilities in Dixon and Stockton.

Reaction

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was unavailable to comment on camera Thursday due to closed-room meetings, but hisrepresentative Joaquin McPeek said the mayor was not contacted by Campbell's and no one reached out from the food manufacturer.

"It's unfortunate and it potentially damages what we're doing to help the economy," McPeek said. "The mayor has constantly emphasized the need to retain business and attract new business."

Johnson expressed he hoped the Campbell's closure wouldn't be a blow to the economy and stressed the "need to make sure invest in things that are in high-demand ... i.e. green technology."

Many Franklin Boulevard business owners in the vicinity of the plant were dismayed by the news.

"My reaction to the news is quite sad,"Cornejo, Banh & Associates CEO Armando Cornejo said."The Campbell's Soup Company has been a strong part of this community, particularly the Franklin Boulevard area and I think the business it's attracted, the traffic it has brought into this area is definitely going to affect the local community."

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