Just weeks after denying they were closing their Merced plant, Pepsi Beverages Company has announced the plant will close on Dec. 8.
Mary Viola, spokeswoman for Pepsi, said employees of the business were notified of the plant closure last Wednesday. The plant employs 42 people and has been around for more than 40 years. Employees were told not to talk about the plant closure.
"We are providing severance benefits and skill building, as well as looking at all open positions in the local area to redeploy them," Viola said.
According to Viola, the West Avenue plant is the only one that is being closed. On July 2, Viola said the plant would not be closing in the near future.
John Bramble, city manager for Merced, said the city had heard rumors about the plant closing in late June.
"We tried to schedule a meeting with them but were unable to get together," Bramble said. "We never like to see a business leave, and it's a little disappointing that we weren't able to coordinate a meeting with them about even why they made the decision."
The Merced plant only does cans of soda, not bottles, and Viola said consumers want their beverages in plastic bottles.
"We have excess capacity at the Merced plant," Viola said. "We have to plan for demand, as well as provide consumers with the product they are requesting."
Last year, Pepsi bought out Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. in Somers, N.Y., and PepsiAmericas, Inc. in Minneapolis. Viola said part of the company is Frito-Lay North America, a $13 billion convenient foods business unit.
"Employees could go to another Pepsi plant, or even to another Frito-Lay plant," Viola said. "We are trying to do everything we can to locate jobs for these folks."
In July, employees of the Merced plant reported rumors about the plant closing. Viola said at that time there were no plans to close the Merced plant, but the decision for closure could come in the future.