New Iberia cannery sells Bruce’s brand name, two plants

LAFAYETTE — New Iberia cannery Bruce Foods has sold its product lines of canned vegetables, including the famous Bruce’s Yams, and the Bruce’s brand name to South Carolina-based McCall Farms, Bruce Foods chief J.S. “Si” Brown confirmed Friday.

The sale includes Bruce Foods plants in Lozes, near New Iberia, and in Wilson, N.C., which were two of the company’s four plants.

McCall Farms bought Bruce Foods for an undisclosed price in a transaction that occurred in December. Both companies are privately held.

Brown said his family and others at Bruce Foods decided to sell the divisions last summer.

“It’s part of a change in corporate strategy,” he said.

Brown said his company would concentrate on growing the company’s other product lines, including Louisiana Hot Sauce and Louisiana Gold, Mexene Chili and Cajun Injector marinades. He said the company would keep its two remaining plants, located in New Iberia and El Paso, Texas.

According to the Bruce Foods website, the New Iberia facility bottles the company’s sauces, and the Texas plant processes refried beans and chili products in bulk.

“We’re looking ahead to the new plan … and our new strategy,” Brown said. “We wish the McCall Farms people a lot of luck in continuing to grow Bruce’s Yams and Southern vegetable business. We think the purchase is going to be excellent for both companies.”

Former Bruce Foods workers number 50 to 60 at each of the Louisiana and North Carolina plants. The future of the full-time workers at each plant, who currently are working, is undetermined, said Annie Ham, a spokeswoman for McCall Farms.

“McCall Farms is still evaluating how the company will proceed with any realignment of jobs and job functions as it relates to former Bruce Foods employees,” Ham said.

She said McCall Farms did lay off seasonal workers at both plants.

McCall Farms, which opened for business in 1838, produces the Margaret Holmes line of canned goods, including vegetables, “Simple Suppers” and boiled peanuts.

The company is based in Effingham, S.C., and cans and distributes the products grown on 2,000 acres of McCall Farms farmland, as well as on 13,000 acres contracted from farmers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, according to company officials.

Bruce Foods was started in New Iberia in 1928 and was purchased by the Brown family in 1974. In 1972, the family bought the Wilson, N.C., plant.

“The products currently manufactured by (the) Bruce’s brand and included in this transaction are yams, white potatoes, and southern vegetables” such as okra, squash, greens and carrots. Bruce’s canned yams are known as America’s No. 1 selling yam,” Ham said in the statement.