Lost contract leads to 78 layoffs at Allegan County plant

Allegan County

A Feb. 2020 image shows That’s Tasty brand basil for sale at a Gordon Food Service store in Grand Rapids.

HOPKINS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Virginia-based organic herb producer has shut down most of its operations at an Allegan County facility, leading to dozens of layoffs.

Shenandoah Growers, the company behind the “That’s Tasty” brand, notified the state about the immediate cuts in a Friday letter. The notice states the company ended herb packing operations at 2468 12th St. near US-131 in Shelbyville, about 7 miles south of Wayland.

Approximately 78 jobs were lost, according to the notice.

“It’s not a decision we come to happily or lightly,” Marketing Vice President Don Helms told News 8 Tuesday.

Shenandoah Growers blamed “unforeseen business circumstances” for the cuts.

“Specifically, the Company just learned, unexpectantly, that we lost a major contract with a key retail client which was responsible for a substantial amount of volume and revenue that was handled at the Michigan Facility,” the letter to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity reads in part.

Helms would not identify the company that dropped Shenandoah’s contract, but confirmed That’s Tasty brand products are in several major Michigan stores, including Meijer and Kroger.

When News 8 went to a Gordon Food Service store in February to profile herb grower Square Roots, That’s Tasty herbs were also on display. However, on Tuesday, GFS was not listed online as a retailer for That’s Tasty herbs.

In a call to News 8 Thursday, GFS Marketing Director John Kesterke said he didn’t know the status of That’s Tasty brand products in stores, deferring to another GFS official. Kesterke did say GFS has no intention of selling only Square Roots products and will continue to offer a variety of field-grown herbs.

A Feb. 2020 image shows That’s Tasty brand basil for sale at a Gordon Food Service store in Grand Rapids.

Shenandoah Growers’ Shelbyville facility has been around for more than a decade, changing hands at times during mergers, according to Helms. It’s Shenandoah Growers’ only facility in Michigan.

Helms said a small group of employees in logistics will stay on at the facility.

Shenandoah Growers says laid off employees will be given severance and priority for openings at similar facilities within the company.

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