|The West Liberty Foods story began in 1996, yet it is the continuation of over 70 years of unique history and unprecedented growth.
In 1943, Louis H. Rich established the Rock Island Produce Company from Rock Island, Illinois, to West Liberty, Iowa. By 1946, the plant was converted to a chicken slaughter facility. Martin and Norman Rich, both sons of Louis, decided the company would undergo a massive revamp, and thus in 1949 the company began focusing on turkey products. In 1960, The Rock Island Produce Company changed their name to Louis Rich Foods, Inc. and undertook the first expansion of the West Liberty facility.
19 years later, in 1979, the company was acquired by Oscar Mayer, General Foods, and Phillip Morris. The facility ran until 1996, when Oscar Mayer, a division of Phillip Morris, announced they were closing the West Liberty facility effective December 31.
At that time, the Iowa Turkey Growers Cooperative (ITGC) was formed by 47 Iowa-based turkey growers. ITGC purchased the West Liberty, Iowa facility and began to run their business as West Liberty Foods. In 1997, the first turkeys were processed by the Cooperative.
Three years later, in 2000, West Liberty Foods purchased a facility in Sigourney, Iowa. That facility was sold in late 2012. In 2002, the USDA-inspected Research and Development Center was opened in West Liberty, Iowa. One year later, the Mount Pleasant, Iowa facility was opened and then expanded in 2004. By 2005, West Liberty Foods opened a state-of-the-art Quality Assurance Laboratory in West Liberty. Only four years after the opening of the Mount Pleasant, Iowa plant, West Liberty Foods expanded towards the west by building and opening a new facility in Tremonton, Utah in 2007.
In 2008 the Hearts & Hands Children's Academy opened in Tremonton, Utah.
In 2012 West Liberty Foods became a Landfill Free Company. All three facilities were independently verified by NSF International Strategic Registrations in which West Liberty Foods demonstrated that less than 1% of all waste is being sent to a landfill. The company’s combined total saved waste is 7.5 million lbs annually and they are one of the first companies in the United States to have this claim verified by a third-party organization.
In 2013, High Pressure Pasteurization systems were installed in the Mount Pleasant, Iowa and Tremonton, Utah facilities.