First Toyota, next Sriracha? Texans wooing California hot sauce plant

Sriracha chili sauce is produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, which owners are considering moving amid a legal fight with the city.
(Nick Ut / AP)

Texas lawmakers are making a play to steal California’s most famous hot sauce maker, the embattled Sriracha plant in Irwindale.

Later, this month, Sriracha will host a Lone Star state delegation, eager to poach the popular sauce and its 200 jobs. Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba announced the trip last week, and has since said that a fellow representative and the state agriculture commissioner will be joining him.

Their goal: To offer insight on their state’s “impressive pepper production industry” and its low-tax, light-regulation ways of doing business, and of course get Sriracha-maker Huy Fung Foods to move there.

It’s the latest in a series of recruiting efforts in California by Texas politicians. Gov. Rick Perry has made a well-publicized trip, touting the state’s hands-off business climate and low taxes. It comes on the heels of Toyota’s North American headquarters moving from Torrance to suburban Dallas.


Villalba, who describes himself as “an avid fan of the spicy Sriracha,” has been beating the drum to bring the company to Texas since January, not long after the city of Irwindale sued Huy Fung over odors emanating from the $40-million hot sauce plant and a judge ordered a partial shutdown. Irwindale officials and Huy Fung chief executive David Tran have been in negotiations since, even as a number of California cities and other states have said they’d welcome the plant with open arms. Tran has said he hopes to stay put, but has invited potential suitors to visit the plant and smell things for themselves.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) stopped by in hopes of working out a solution that keeps Huy Fong in the region. Now it appears he’s got competition. Villalba and company say they’ll be in Irwindale May 12.

“He now remains even more committed to meeting with the Tran Family about the company’s potential relocation to Texas,” said the release from Villalba’s office.