Richmond • Pepperidge Farm seems to be swimming against a bad economy as its line of crackers has increased sales the past eight years.
That’s why company president Irene Chang Britt came to Cache Valley Monday to dedicate a new $45 million expansion at its Richmond plant.
The 94,000 square foot expansion and improved facilities at the original 225,000 square foot site on the Utah-Idaho border should be fully operational by November. But some of the plant’s 434 workers are already baking millions of the little Goldfish crackers. The facility is staffed by three shifts working 24 hours a day.
This also marks the 40th anniversary for the plant in Richmond, Pepperidge Farm’s only facility located in the western United States.
The plant also produces cookies, frozen foods and other types of snack crackers. It’s thrift store is a popular stopping place for travelers looking to get deals on its popular line of goodies.
The plant produces around 60 million pounds of cookies, crackers and frozen products each year. When the new facility is operational, it will up that total to 90 million pounds.
Britt, who is based in Norwalk, Conn., said the expansion came in under budget and ahead of schedule. She added that many company employees who work on the line offered a number of suggestions that helped improve production capabilities.
"We’ve had eight continuous years of growth in our Goldfish brand," she told legislators, Utah economic development officials, county and city officials who gathered for the ribbon cutting.
Employee Lainie Harris of Preston, Idaho, who was one of dozens of workers wearing gold-colored "Project Teton" shirts, said she found the project overwhelming.
"It’s a lot of money to spend," she said, saying that those working on the cracker line felt as though they had good job security.
Lynn Lemon, a Cache County executive, said county and city governments created a Community Development Area using state Redevelopment Agency laws to help finance the expansion. Pepperidge Farms will get a 50 percent tax credit on the new production facility for the next 10 years, with local governments sharing the additional 50 percent of tax dollars.
Company officials estimated the expansion will bring an eventual workforce increase of about 15 percent, or about 65 new jobs.
Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the growth would add $11.7 million to Utah’s economy and $2.1 million in additional tax revenue.
"This is an outstanding company," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, a Republican who represents Cache Valley. "The company was brave enough in this economy to expand and expand its employee base."
The smells of baking goldfish and whirring sounds of machinery provided the backdrop for the ribbon cutting ceremony as officials in lab coats wearing beard and hair nets took a look at the line.
It takes about three minutes for a Goldfish, whose primary ingredient is wheat flour, to bake. Thousands of the baked goods could be seen coming off the production line. They are taken from ovens to conveyor belts where they are then packaged and prepared for shipment around the country.
About 54 people were hired to build the expansion.
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