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Sunland ceases operations, files Chapter 7 bankruptcy

asunlandPORTALES — Embattled Sunland Inc. — citing up to $100 million in liabilities — filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation this week and closed all operations.

The company was unable to recover from the impact of a voluntary product recall and a government-enforced plant shutdown, Sunland Inc. said in a news release.

“Despite resuming operations, ongoing financial and liquidity challenges made it necessary for the company to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7,” the company said.

Sunland has an estimated $10 million to $50 million in assets, $50 million to $100 million in liabilities, and 1,000 to 5,000 creditors, according to the bankruptcy filing.

Plant workers were notified Wednesday the plant was shut down.

Sunland President and CEO Jimmy Shearer declined comment.

Chapter 7 means the company shuts down and liquidates its assets.

Portales Mayor Sharon King posted a statement on her Facebook page.

“As mayor, I’ll tell you that Sunland has been an outstanding employer to our community for decades.

“Its closure doesn’t just affect the employees that lost their jobs this morning but all services provided by the city,” it said. “Most of the city is funded with gross receipts taxes. The close of any business, but especially one the size of Sunland, impacts the city’s budget and the services we can provide our residents.

“Prayers for the Sunland families are needed.”

The country’s largest organic peanut butter processor was linked to a salmonella outbreak in September 2012 that caused 41 illnesses in 20 states.

Sunland recalled more than 100 nut and peanut butter products after the outbreak.

Sunland Inc. reopened production of its peanut butter plant in March.

In a May article, then-Roosevelt County Economic Director Bill Redmond said Sunland had 100 employees and was looking to hire as many as 40 more.

“Sunland voluntarily recalled all of its products in October 2012, a precautionary measure with enormous financial consequences,” the company said in its release.