MGP Ingredients will lay off 40 employees when it closes its Pekin wheat gluten plant. Distillery operations will remain, though production of fuel-grade alcohol will be reduced according to this Pekin Daily times article. The company is consolidating production of wheat protein and starch products at its Atchison, Kansas plant. Last month, the company closed its flour mill there and is now contracting with Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra to provide wheat flour.
MGP Ingredients of Illinois was founded in 1941 as Midwest Solvents Corp. It purchased American Distilling Co.’s Pekin plant in 1980, and set up a subsidiary, Midwest Solvents Corp. of Illinois. The wheat gluten plant opened two years later. The company changed its name to Midwest Grain Products of Illinois in 1985. A mid-1990′s expansion significantly increased distillery and wheat gluten plant capacity. MGP adopted its present name in 2002.
The closure of the company’s Pekin wheat gluten plant will affect Union Pacific, which had hauled at least several hundred carloads of wheat flour annually from Atchison, Kansas to East Peoria (the Tazewell & Peoria RR provides switching service to MGP).
MGP Ingredients plans to construct a coal-fired co-generation plant at Pekin, which will be in operation by 2011.
- David P. Jordan