Sunland could have new owner today

sunland-comebackCMI staff

Hampton Farms, with a winning bid of slightly more than $20 million, appears to be the new owner of the shuttered Sunland Inc. peanut processing plant, KOAT-TV reported Thursday night.

The bid offered at auction is expected to be finalized today at a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque. Hampton Farms of North Carolina outbid California-based Ready Roast Nut Co.

Ready Roast had initially offered $18.5 million for the plant closed in October 2013 on the heels of a financially devastating federal shutdown. The plant was ordered closed by the FDA after a nationwide salmonella poisoning was directly linked to the Portales peanut processor.

Ready Roast had indicated in a recent press release that it intended to reopen the plant in Portales. Hampton Farms, which has been operating in eastern New Mexico for several years, hasn’t announced its plans. Lawyers for the firm didn’t return several telephone calls.

Hampton Farms advertises itself as the largest peanut roaster in the U.S.

Sunland was once one of the largest employers in Roosevelt County with a staff of more than 120 and worldwide distribution of its products. It was the nation’s largest producer of Valencia peanuts. Much of the crop it processed into peanut butter was purchased from growers across eastern New Mexico and West Texas.