From Syracuse.com by Rick Moriarty
Lysander, NY — Agrana Fruit US Inc. will invest more than $50 million in Lysander to build a fruit processing plant that will employ up to 120 people.
Agrana, a global company that makes fruit preparations for the dairy industry, chose a site on Sixty Road in Lysander’s Radisson Corporate Park for the manufacturing and distribution plant, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The state is giving Agrana a $600,000 grant and $2 million in tax credits. The company is expected to break ground on the 107,000-square-foot plant in April.
New York’s growing yogurt industry was a key to the company’s decision because Lysander is a central location for production and distribution to leading yogurt companies in the state and other locations in the Northeast and Canada, the governor’s office said.
“Our new facility in New York will allow us to support the incredible growth of our North American customers by providing the products necessary to meet the demands of the market,” Bob Prendes, Agrana president and CEO, said in a statement.
Agrana also considered a location in Oriskany, which is south of Rome in Oneida County, and sites in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. This will be the company’s fourth U.S. plant.
Agrana is a major supplier of fruit preparations — a mixture of fruit, sugar and stabilizers — that go into yogurt. It has seen its business rise with the growing popularity of Greek yogurt, which uses twice as much fruit as traditional yogurt.
The company does not publicly disclose who its customers are, but one of them is believed to be Greek yogurt maker Chobani in the Chenango County town of New Berlin, 67 miles southeast of Syracuse.
New York’s yogurt industry — there are 29 yogurt production plants in New York, including nine classified as major facilities — has been growing rapidly. Between 2005 and 2011, the state’s yogurt plants doubled production, boosting business for dairy farms and equipment manufacturers, according to the state.
The amount of milk used to make yogurt in New York increased from 158 million pounds in 2005 to about 1.2 billion pounds in 2011, the state said.
The U.S. market for fruit preparations offers average annual growth of more than 6 percent, thanks to the trend toward yogurt containing a high proportion of fruit, according to Agrana’s website. The European market, on the other hand, has been stagnating, the company said.
An Agrana executive told the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency in February that the new plant would employ 60 people within its first year of operation and twice that number as it ramped up to full capacity.
The executive, Vice President of Finance Carl Bock, said the jobs would pay an average annual salary of $33,000, plus $7,000 worth of benefits such as health, dental and vision insurance and retirement plan contributions.
Plans shown to the agency depicted a 107,292-square-foot building with an 84-car parking lot. They also showed a possible 37,477-square-foot expansion of the building.
Agrana has applied to the industrial development agency for property tax breaks and an exemption from sales taxes on construction materials.
The agency must hold a public hearing before voting on the application, but its members expressed strong support for the project during the February meeting. At the time, the company said the Lysander site was one of several it was considering.
County Executive Joanie Mahoney said the company’s selection of the Lysander location was a “testament to our region’s strong roots in manufacturing and agriculture.”
Agrana’s U.S. headquarters are in Brecksville, Ohio, and it operates plants in Botkins, Ohio; Centerville, Tenn.; and Fort Worth, Texas. It said it expects to have group revenues of about $4 billion this year. The company employs 8,500 people at 56 sites in 26 countries.