Jerky plant fire may cause unemployment ripple-effect

Created: 01/06/2014 5:13 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

After a fire destroyed a beef jerky plant near Los Lunas Sunday night, a new day reveals an incredible ripple effect.

Sunset Foods supplies its jerky to several stores that  rely on selling it to keep their businesses going.

After Sunday night's fire, the company isn't manufacturing out of it's Tome plant. That means for the shops that carry Sunset Beef Jerky, there's nothing to sell.

Some employees who work for those stores may be looking for new work.

"It's going to affect a lot of people," said Elena Flores-Tobin.

Flores-Tobin works at The Jerky Store in Bosque Farms.

On Monday she's getting the store ready for its seasonal January 10 opening day.

Already, folks are showing up for jerky.

"It'll go fast," said Vanessa Wells.

Wells doesn't usually drive to Bosque Farms for beef jerky.

"I usually go to the one in Tome," she said.

But after Sunday night's blaze, the Tome Sunset Foods store isn't an option.

So Wells tried her luck at The Jerky Store.

"Really, just shock," said Flores-Tobin from behind the counter. "It happens to other people, usually."

Flores-Tobin was at the shop today preparing for the Jan 10 opening day. They open that day each year for the winter season.

Sunset's products are a huge part of business.

"They can't make jerky," said Flores-Tobin."What I have here is what we have. This is all we have."

Flores-Tobin says she has so little of the popular jerky, she expects it to be gone within days of the shop's season opener.

"We're probably going to have to close our doors for two or three months," she said.

The Jerky Store isn't alone.

A shop manager at a store that sells the jerky in Bernallilo tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 he has no idea what he'll do if the jerky supply dries up.

"It's a well known product," said Flores-Tobin.

She has confidence Sunset Jerky will rebound, and stock piles will recover. She credits a loyal following for the prediction.

But for now, she's afraid she may not be so lucky.

"I hope to file unemployment," she said.

KOB reached out to management at Sunset Foods Monday but no one wanted to talk about the fire.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

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