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J.M. Smucker Co.'s fleet of Meadville area truck drivers will be phased out as the company consolidates distribution and warehouse systems in Pennsylvania this year.

On Tuesday, Smucker said it would eliminate 46 jobs part of the closure of its Greenville area distribution center in August. With the Greenville distribution center closing, smaller warehouses in Meadville and Erie that stored either finished product or ingredients also will close.

The consumer foods and pet foods company also will close its Breinigsville distribution center in eastern Pennsylvania. 

The Greenville and Breinigsville sites won't be needed after a new, larger distribution center opens near Carlisle this spring and becomes fully operational by late summer, according to Smucker.

The company is revamping its entire pet food logistics network after having purchased Ainsworth Pet Nutrition LLC of Meadville and Big Heart Pet Brands of San Francisco.

The distribution moves don't directly affect Smucker’s pet food manufacturing operations in Meadville, but they do impact its Meadville truck drivers.

With the Greenville distribution center closing, smaller warehouses in Meadville and Erie that stored either finished product or ingredients also will close and impact the company's local fleet drivers, Ray Hancart, Smucker’s director of communications, confirmed to the Tribune on Thursday.

"Since acquiring these businesses, we have used two sets of drivers for transportation," Hancart said. "Third-party carriers who transport our finished products to locations outside the greater Meadville/Greenville area and a local fleet of drivers to shuttle products/ingredients between our facilities/warehouses near the greater Meadville/Greenville area.

"Moving forward, we will continue to use third-party carriers as we do now," he said. "Since we are closing the Greenville distribution center and warehouses in which the local fleet shuttled product/ingredients between, those roles are no longer needed."

Hancart didn't have a total number of local drivers affected, but he said a total of 60 employees in western and eastern Pennsylvania will be impacted after all phases of Smucker's pet logistics network project are complete. 

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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