LANCASTER Fancy Pokket Corp. of Canada plans to build the largest gluten-free bakery in North America at Lancaster County’s new Air-Rail Business Park.
Fancy Pokket is expected to invest $13 million in the new plant, which is expected to be operating by early 2014 with about 25 workers.
South Carolina economic development officials expect Fancy Pokket to create 68 new jobs over the next five years. The company could create more than that, said Mike Timani, president of Fancy Pokket.
Hiring for the plant is not expected to start until the end of the year.
“This is an exciting new venture for our company, and South Carolina provided the right business environment for our expansion,” Timani said.
The bakery will be housed in a new 57,000-square-foot facility that will be “so clean you can eat off the floors,” Timani said. In addition to production lines, the facility will have a testing lab and a research and development department.
The company announced its plans Thursday to 100 local officials and visitors at the business park which is under development off S.C. 9 near the county airport. The park has access to rail and is a short drive from Interstate 77. About 100 acres are ready for development at the park and about 500 acres could be added depending on market conditions.
Fancy Pokket makes a range of gluten-free products, including conventional bread, hot dog, hamburger buns, bagels, pizza crust, flatbread and desserts.
The gluten-free product sales are a $2.6 billion market, Timani said. Sales are projected to rise to $6.2 billion by 2018, and Fancy Pokket wants a share of that market.
“We’re very proud to have Fancy Pokket join our family of companies in Lancaster County,” said Larry McCullough, chairman of the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. “This is an outstanding company with great growth potential, and we are very happy to have them as the first tenants in our new Lancaster Air-Rail Business Park.”
Timani hired a site consultant to expand his business from its Canadian plant located in Moncton in the province of New Brunswick. He started the company in 1989 with a 1,000-square-foot facility. The company now employs about 55 people at its 45,000-square-foot plant in Moncton.
The consultant narrowed the search to sites in five states including “nearby” sites in North Carolina.
Timani said it selected the Lancaster County site because of the labor forces, taxes and the deal offered by county and state officials.
In lieu of taxes, Fancy Pokket will receive a 30-year fee that represents 6 percent of the assessed value. The county also is rebating property taxes for five years – 75 percent for the first two years and then 50 percent for years three, four and five – said Keith Tunnell, Lancaster County’s economic developer.
The state awarded Fancy Pokket a $200,000 grant for construction, and Duke Energy awarded a $40,000 grant, Tunnell said.
Products from the Lancaster plant will be marketed to grocery stores and restaurants in the U.S., and Timani said he expects to export products to Canada and South and Central America.
Timani said his gluten-free products will be low in sodium and sugar, have no trans fats and be high in fiber content. The bakery will meet kosher standards, he said.
Tunnell said he hopes the successful recruitment of Fancy Pokket will result in more Canadian companies considering Lancaster County. He said he had discussions with 11 Canadian companies on a recent visit there.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066
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