Tyson Foods this week announced plans to invest $208 million to rebuild a rendering plant in Hanceville, Alabama after the previous facility was lost in a fire in 2021.

The new facility, set to be 121,000 square feet, is expected to be completed in the middle of 2023. Tyson will retain the 124 employees who worked at the previous plant throughout the two year construction period.

Prior to the fire, the Hanceville facility produced more than 750,000 tons of pet food and feed grade poultry protein meal.

According to Tyson’s River Valley Ingredients regional manager Jason Spann, the Alabama poultry industry is about a $15 billion economic impact to the state, making up 66 percent of the total commercial agriculture sales in the state, employing over 86,000 workers across 23 poultry complexes and growout facilities which together produce 21 million broilers per week. Cullman County, where the Hanceville facility is located, is the top poultry production county in the state of Alabama.

“We take those inedible products,” Spann said of the facility, “and we convert those into a sellable protein and fats that we sell all over the world. There’s roughly 50 billion pounds of byproducts available in the United States every year. There’s 140 million pounds of raw material processed daily in the United States. Without rendering, some estimates say that landfills in the U.S. would completely fill up in four weeks. So, rendering is the safest method that we know of at disposing of those non-edible animal parts. At full capacity, pre-fire, the Hanceville division rendered approximately two billion pounds of those materials out of the Alabama poultry industry annually. It was the largest poultry rendering plant in the world.”