Foreign Food Firms Find Development-Friendly U.S. States

Growth in global trade is a two-way street, and foreign-based food companies are increasing their presence in North America, with the more successful firms eventually setting up production here.

The latest example is Charles & Alice USA, the domestic arm of France-based parent Charles & Alice Group. The maker of squeezable pouches of apple sauce with no or reduced sugar recently committed to a 10-year lease for a former food plant in East Hempfield Township, Pa. The manufacturer began exporting to the U.S. in 2008, then establishing a distribution center in Elizabeth, N.J., in 2011. The 55,000 sq. ft. Lancaster County facility is expected to commence production in September.

The lease agreement followed by less than a week the closing of a deal between Portugal-based processor Frulact and the city of Rupert, Ida., for a 200,000 sq. ft. fruit preparations facility. The facility is expected to begin production in 2015.

In September, a gluten-free baking plant in Lancaster County, S.C., is expected to start up. The $13 million, 57,000 sq. ft. facility is under the ownership of Canada’s Fancy Pokket Corp. in Moncton, N.B. Bread, buns, bagels, pizza crust and flatbreads will be produced.

In all cases, economic development officials offered packages of tax credits, job-training grants and other financial incentives. Charles & Alice considered sites in upstate New York and the Pacific Northwest before accepting a package of low-interest loans and grants valued at $1.25 million. The plant will employ 20 to produce 40 million 2.3-4 oz packets initially, with a goal of 120 million units and 50 workers.

The vacant building near Landisville, Pa., was built in 1984 by Rivard Popcorn. Operations ceased after Rivard was acquired by Hain Celestial in 2010 and production was consolidated in Greenfield, Pa.

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