Peabody Rousselot plant to close at end of 2023
By Caroline E nos Staff Writer
PEABODY — Rousselot’s plant in Peabody will close at the end of the year, putting an end to over 200 years of manufacturing operations at the site.
The factory, which is located off Allens Lane and Washington Street, primarily produces pharmaceutical- grade gelatin that is used by different industries and has about 100 employees, who will be offered severance packages as operations wind down, said Suann Guthrie, a spokesperson for Darling Ingredients, Rousselot’s parent company.
Employees were informed of the closure Monday.
“The decision to close the facility is based on economics and optimizing the company’s portfolio,” Guthrie said in an email. “We are able to accommodate the production at other facilities.”
With just under 330 acres of property in Peabody, Rousselot is one of the city’s largest landowners in addition to being one of its largest employers. The company owns 14 properties on Allen’s Lane, an area around Cedar Pond near Route 128, Jubilee Drive, Washington Street, Lynnfield Street, May Street, Adelaide Avenue and Granite Street, where it leases out the majority of its land for the city to use as the Meadow Golf Course. In total, the city values the properties at $27.8 million.
Rousselot paid the city $552,717 in property taxes for Fiscal Year 2023, according to City Assessor Susan Antonellis.
It was not immediately clear if Rousselot will sell off these properties or what might come of them after the plant closes.
“It has been a pleasure to be a part of the Peabody community for many years, and we look forward to continuing to do so while we support our employees and responsibly wind down our operations,” Plant Manager Gary R. Less said in an email to Mayor Ted Bettencourt Monday, which was shared with The Salem News.
Bettencourt said in an interview Wednesday that he plans to meet with representatives from Rousselot in the next few days to learn more about the plant’s closure. The city will also work with the company to determine the future of its properties, he said.
“My first thought is the potential loss of jobs for dozens of people, what that means for their families and, certainly, what the ramifications would be for the city of Peabody,” Bettencourt said.
“There’s a lot of ties to Rousselot that we’re going to have to work on these next few months. But there’s opportunity here, and I’m looking forward to doing what I can to help the city best deal with this news,” he said.
Formerly Eastman Gelatine and owned by Eastman Kodak, the factory was acquired by Rousselot in 2011. Three years later, Rousselot joined Darling Ingredients, the “world’s largest producer of sustainable ingredients from edible and inedible organic residuals,” according to its website.
The plant, which originally opened as a glue factory in 1817, transformed over the years to meet changing needs and was focused on creating gelatin for Kodak camera film through the early 2000s. With the rise of the digital age squandering the demand for film, the plant shifted its focus to creating gelatin for biomedical products in the 2010s.
Neighbors within a mile of the plant filed a class action lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court in 2020 alleging that the plant emitted “noxious odors” that traveled onto their properties during the summer of 2019 and after.
That suit is still pending and is currently proceeding with a pretrial exchange of evidence. In February, a judge allowed a request by Rousselot to be allowed to conduct an inspection on plaintiff properties.
The case will return to court for a status hearing on March 14.
Contact Caroline Enos at CEnos@northofboston.com and follow her on Twitter @ CarolineEnos. Staff Writer Julie Manganis contributed to this report.
An aerial photo of Rousselot in Peabody, which is the former Eastman Gelatine known for making the base for photographic film and part of the Eastman Kodak company. The plant, off Washington Street and Allens Lane, will be closing its doors at the end of the year.
PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo