Milk and ice cream maker HP Hood buys former Southworth Paper factory in Agawam

H.P. Hood LLC has purchased the former Southworth Paper manufacturing plant and headquarters adjacent to Hood’s Main Street milk plant for $3.55 million. Spokeswoman Laura Lynn said Thursday that Hood didn’t have anything to say right now about its plans for the 146,000-square-foot Southworth plant at 265 Main St.

But the Lynwood-based company has already talked with Agawam officials about its plans. Some operations will move from its existing plant into the former Southworth building, with a goal of doubling production in Agawam, said Marc Strange, the town’s director of planning and community development. “It’s great news. We are very happy to hear this,” Strange said.

Strange said Hood plans to build an internal connecting road to link the two properties without putting traffic on Main Street. The town is now working with state economic development officials on ways to ease Hood’s burden in the expansion.

The existing 94,000-square-foot facility at 233 Main St. — Hood’s largest plant — opened in 1960. It has the capacity to process 55 million gallons of milk a year and serves more than 2,000 customers as far away as Pennsylvania. That includes supermarkets, neighborhood groceries, ice cream stands and brand-name chains.

The Agawam plant processes fluid milk straight from the farm; bottles milk including cream, chocolate milk and strawberry milk, as well as orange juice and fruit drinks; and makes ice cream mixes. Equipment at the Agawam plant even makes those familiar plastic milk bottles.

Hood also uses the Agawam plant as a distribution point for other food products that have to be kept cold. The company had 320 employees there as of 2018, Lynn said. That number has probably gone up with increased business during the pandemic. The sale the old Southworth plant became public after papers were filed Dec. 22 at the Hampden County Registry of Deeds.