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SunGold Foods to open sunflower seed plant

November 20, 2012
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Sunflower seed processing company SunGold Foods is set to open a snack manufacturing facility in Lubbock, Texas, in December, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.

The facility is predicted to create more than 100 new jobs over the next five years and will use sunflower seeds bought from local producers. It will roast, package and ship in-shell sunflower seeds, which will be distributed across the United States and internationally as snack food. The facility is set to be officially opened on December 14 and is estimated to contribute a total of $17.5 million on an annual basis to the local economy. Some $3.3 million of that will be paid out as new salaries. Initially, 40 full-time employees will start work, but an additional 65 jobs are expected to be created in the future, as demand increases.

In fact, the plant will be starting work over the next couple of weeks, plant manager Mike Williams explains. The building and the installation of brand new equipment is 99% finished, he tells the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. What the management is currently working on is finalizing operations with the city and work will be in full swing very soon, Williams claims.

Kenny McKay, director of business retention for the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, says that SunGold Foods has been granted $317,000 as a job creation incentive and the money will be transferred over five years following the opening of the new facility in Lubbock. SunGold is to receive an even part of the funding once a year, on the condition that the required job creation criteria are fully met.

The plant is located at the site of the former Standard Sales Budweiser Distributor, and SunGold Foods, which is a subsidiary of Red River Commodities, Inc., owner of a bird food facility in Lubbock operating since 1995, has invested $11.5 million to make the site suitable for its new purpose.

The location of the new facility was not randomly chosen. According to Williams, Lubbock is situated close to most producers that will supply the sunflower seeds, so shipping costs will be low. However, it is also a convenient spot to reach consumers. Colin Clarke, director of SunGold Foods, adds that the facility is the culmination of the company''s attempts to innovate and experiment for years and its state-of-the-art technology puts SunGold Foods at the forefront of U.S. sunflower seed processing industry.

Red River Commodities president and CEO Bob Majkrzak comments that the new plant will allow the business to expand its market and attract new customers across the United States and abroad, as it will diversify in-shell roasting operations for the company. It will also grant access to considerable amounts of high-quality in-shell sunflower seeds grown in the area, which can easily reach highly-populated snack food markets, he concludes.

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