– Fairmont Foods plans to close in March, putting 167 employees out of work.

The frozen-meal maker in south-central Minnesota cited the recent economic climate and said the company is unable to recover and continue operations.

City Administrator Mike Humpal told the Sentinel of Fairmont he was "shocked as anybody" about Thursday's announcement.

Fairmont Mayor Randy Quiring said company officials told him declining business was to blame. The packaged foods industry has been struggling with sluggish demand.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported that the fate of the company's building is unclear, but Quiring said his main concern is helping the company's employees find new jobs in the area.

Fairmont Foods began operations more than 25 years ago on the site of a former Armour frozen-foods plant that ConAgra closed.

ASSOCIATED PRESS