SK Foods Files for Bankruptcy

Lemoore, CA Since 1990 /*SK Foods*/ has processed locally grown tomatoes and produced popular sauces, salsas and ketchup. 300 people work at the facility year-round but the number swells to close to a thousand during the summer harvest.

The jobs people like David Carlon have relied on for years might not be there anymore. Carlon said, "A lot of people are going to be out of that job at that place. I hope they get a good buyer."

SK Foods says it was forced into /*Chapter 11 Bankruptcy*/ after being dropped by its lending group. /*Lemoore*/ City Manager Jeff Briltz says the company has one month to find a new buyer. Briltz said "A loss of that kind of job magnitude would have ripple effects throughout on the community. It would be devastating." Especially in a town of just 25-thousand people. Briltz said "It is unsettling however I think there's a lot to focus on that's positive in that there are interested buyers, the crop is in the ground."

Economic Development Corporation President John Lehn says SK Foods is among the top five employers in /*Kings County*/. Lehn said, "We're certainly sad to see what's happening with them but we're very optimistic about the employment and how this plant will continue."

Because the demand for processed tomatoes hasn't dropped Lehn believes a buyer will come forward before the peak season in July. Lehn said, "Frankly I can't imagine it failing only because of the quality of the manufacturing facility right now. "

Officials with SK Foods were not available for comment. The company was the target of a federal probe into bribery and price-fixing in the food industry. The investigation led to several guilty pleas.

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