Could Kern County lure popular hot sauce maker?

Could Kern County lure popular hot sauce maker?
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — After months of battling with the city of Irwindale, the founder of a popular hot sauce now says he is considering moving his factory.

Huy Fong Foods, which makes the popular Sriracha sauce, has been located in the city of Irwindale in Los Angeles County for less than a year, but is already having problems with the city. The business was founded in Los Angeles’ Chinatown in the 1980s and later moved to Rosemead.

Last year, the company moved into a 650,000-square-foot factory in Irwindale.

Since then, there have been several complaints from residents in Irwindale regarding the powerful odor emitted from the factory. Just recently, the city declared the factory a public nuisance, causing owner David Tran to consider relocation.

Many of the complaints are based on the smell caused during the grinding process of the peppers. Sriracha uses spicy red jalapeno peppers for their sauce, which are mostly grown in Ventura County, with about 600 acres in Kern County at Underwood Farms.

The company has received several offers from various states and other cities in California, however the plant does need to remain within two hours driving distance of the growers.

“You don’t want the peppers to sit for long periods of time before you grind them,” said Robert Chapman, president and CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation. “With drive times and everything, we know that we’re within a two hour drive of that facility."

Kern County is among several places hoping to attract the popular hot sauce maker for relocation.

“You don’t have to leave the state if you want to be in a competitive market,” said Chapman. “Kern County since 2001 is the fastest growing economy in the country.”

Sriracha has also grown in popularity, becoming the No. 1 condiment in many markets.

Chapman told Eyewitness News that there are about six or seven different locations within the county that could be a great new location for the plant.

It is still not determined if the company will actually leave the city of Irwindale or if a change can be made to resolve the issue of the odor.

Huy Fong Foods would not comment on the move at this time.