Fruit-preparation company to start on 200,000-square-foot plant
By Carol Ryan Dumas
RUPERT, Idaho — Frulact Group, a Portugal-based fruit-preparation company, is expected to begin construction of a 200,000-square foot processing plant — its first in the U.S. — in Rupert in May.
Last week, the Rupert Urban Renewal Agency and Frulact finalized the development agreement. This week, the agency closed on the real estate Frulact needs to build the plant and will deed the land to Frulact, said Rupert City Administrator Kelly Anthon.
“Everything is going smoothly” and has been finalized, he said.
Closing on the real estate, a fairly complicated land transaction that involved a family trust, culminated negotiations that have been ongoing since October 2013, he said.
Frulact’s capital investment of an estimated $30 million could go higher once its plans are finalized and contracts are bid out, he said.
Tax increment money from property taxes paid by Frulact and state grant money will cover the cost of infrastructure improvements in excess of $4 million to get the site ready for construction. Frulact is contributing $1 million to obtain access to the city’s excess wastewater capacity so ratepayers wouldn’t feel the impact, Anthon said.
“This is really good for the residents of Rupert,” he said.
With processing plants in Portugal, France, Morocco and South Africa, the company produces fruit-based preparations for food labels in the dairy, ice cream, pastry and beverage markets throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
In October, Frulact announced its plans to break ground on the plant, stating it would hire about 100 workers when it starts operations during the fourth quarter of 2014, with more jobs added as growth warrants.
Frulact first vetted Southern Idaho in April 2013, while also considering locating in Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. Like most recruitments, the process involved several site visits and negotiations. Rupert competed head-to-head, said Jan Rogers, executive director of Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization, in an earlier interview.
“The city of Rupert is superbly located for the Frulact facility and therefore is ideal to serve our key customers throughout the United States,” Frulact’s CEO and co-founder Joao Miranda said in an earlier press release. “We look forward to operating in Rupert and getting established in the U.S. production and distribution market.”
The company chose to locate in Rupert because of its sense of community and its guarantee that construction can start immediately, he said.