'Sriracha Delegation' makes its pitch to relocate
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas' "sriracha delegation" on Monday made its long-awaited visit to California to woo the makers of the popular hot sauce, but it was no clearer at the conclusion of the visit what might come of it. State Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston, told the San Antonio Express-News that any relocation by the sauce maker out of state would be a "last resort." However, Vo said the possibility of expanding operations to another state remains on the table.
Pushing the agenda is an ongoing tug-of-war between Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures the hot sauce, and the city government of Irwindale, Calif., which could vote as early as Wednesday to declare the plant a public nuisance. That action could allow the government to take measures to control the odors from the factory.
The Tribune's Neena Satija reported that the growth in sriracha's popularity could push the company toward expansion, possibly to Texas. But Satija added that Texas might face another obstacle: limited capacity in the harvest of the kinds of chile peppers used in sriracha.
Huy Fong Foods "works with a single pepper grower, Underwood Farms, and expects to get 58,000 tons of fresh chile peppers this season. In 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas produced only 8,000 tons of chile peppers. ... And most of the chile peppers grown in Texas are green; Huy Fong exclusively uses red chile peppers."
For now, the sriracha delegation, led by Dallas Republican state Rep. Jason Villalba, must content itself with a promise from Huy Fong Foods' founder to visit Texas "in the near future."