Sriracha California Plant Not Moving Despite Ongoing Battle Over Smell

Image: Sriracha California Plant Not Moving Despite Ongoing Battle Over Smell Sriracha hot sauce founder David Tran, second from right,with his workers and supporters protest ahead of the city council meeting in Irwindale, Calif.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 07:10 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Sriracha's California plant has no intention of moving, the maker of the famous hot sauce announced Monday, despite an ongoing feud between the company and local officials who declared the facility's pungent smell a public nuisance last month.

"We're still here," Huy Fong Foods CEO David Tran told reporters Monday. "I've lived in California for 34, 35 years now. I'm not planning to move."

Tran's declaration came after a pair of Texas lawmakers — State Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Jason Villalba — toured the facility Monday. Following the tour, the congressmen held a news conference to extol the virtues of doing business in the Lone Star State, The Associated Press reported.

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"We're not here to offer any specific incentives, but just to let it be known there are incentives," Uresti told reporters, after listing the benefits of doing business in Texas as opposed to California, including a zero income tax.

Speculation of a move to Texas was further fueled by the fact that Tran had the Texas state flag flying outside the 650,000-square-foot facility on Monday, though the Sriracha founder said it was only a gesture to welcome the lawmakers.

Huy Fong Foods said it has received offers from some two dozen other towns and communities, including several in Texas, to move the factory there, Reuters reported.

Tran's resistance to relocating might stem in part from his close relationship with Los Angeles, of which Irwindale is a suburb, considering he launched his business by selling his now-famous family hot sauce out of a van in 1980 on the streets of L.A. The privately held business reportedly made $85 million in 2012.

Irwindale designated the California Sriracha plant a public nuisance in April, some six months after the city filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods when many residents started complaining about the smell emanating from the factory. Some said the pungent odor caused heartburn, inflamed asthma, and nosebleeds.

In November, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert H. O'Brien ordered Huy Fong Foods to halt any production that might cause the smell. The judge gave the company the right to continue operating in other areas. The smell reportedly did not cease despite the ruling.

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Though the Sriracha plant operates year-round, the nauseating odor is reportedly only present for three months between August and October, which is California's jalapeno pepper harvest season.

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