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Project Jerky – A 60-Job Production Plant

An international snack foods company has tapped eastern North Carolina for a 60-job production plant.

South African firm Stormberg Foods, which produces meat protein snacks, plans to invest nearly $2.5 million into what will be its first U.S. production facility.

Dubbed “Project Jerky” by economic developers, Stormberg Foods selected North Carolina over Virginia and South Carolina, says David Rhoades, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Crystal Gettys, president of the Wayne County Development Alliance, says conversations between economic developers and Stormberg have been ongoing for the past year.

Company representatives visited Goldsboro four times prior to making their decision. And they brought their families on one of those visits to scout “the quality of life” in North Carolina, she says.

The product, called “biltong,” is similar to beef jerky and is described as an all-natural, gluten-free snack. It’s distributed under several brand names targeted toward both pets and people, including “Free Range” and “Best Friend,” sold at Woolworth’s in South Africa. The company has an in-house “African Pride” brand, as well as another pet treat label, “Beg & Barkers.”

The company doesn’t currently distribute its products in the United States, but that’s likely to change

“They have been doing market analysis for over a year now, looking into different avenues in which they can market their product,” Gettys says. The plan is to set up shop in Goldsboro and distribute up and down the East Coast, aided by North Carolina’s highway system, which also factored into the decision, says Gettys.

In a prepared statement about the expansion decision, CEO Gary Moorcroft said the state’s central location on the East Coast was driving factor, as was the low cost of establishing facilities.

“Add a stable labor force, with agricultural processing experience too,” he stated. “The support from the state, city, county and other agencies has been very impressive,” he says.

Moorcroft couldn’t be reached for additional comment.

Stormberg was also lured by a performance-based grant of $125,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which requires a local match.

Wayne County had a 5 percent unemployment rate in April, the most recently-available statistics put out by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Statewide, the average was 4.3 percent.

Source: Biz Journals