Sriracha CEO Warns Price Will Go Up If Factory Is Shut Down
A factory shutdown would mean the price of Sriracha could go through the roof.
That's the warning that the CEO of the company that makes the popular hot sauce gave after neighbors have filed numerous complaints about the "offensive" chili odor the Irwindale plant produces.
CEO and founder David Tran of Huy Fong Foods told the LA Times that the price "would jump up a lot" if they halt production. He says they're already struggling to meet demand: The company is packing about 200,000 bottles of sauce a day, every bottle of which is already sold.
When the city approached the factory about the smell last year, Tran said the company installed active carbon filters and later installed an additional layer. "I read the city's report and I was very surprised," Tran told the Times.
Inspectors from the South Coast Air Quality Management District have inspected the plant twice without raising any red flags, Tran said. He added the company never had any complaints in the nearly 30 years that the factory was located in Rosemead.
Unlike Rosemead, the new Irwindale location does include some residential units alongside the industrial businesses. Neighbors have complained that the chile-infused air gives them burning eyes, irritated throats and headaches.
Adam Holliday, director of operations for Huy Fong Foods, said the company is trying to fix the problem, but isn't sure that the city's suggestion, a $600,000 cleaning system, is the best way to go.
"Burning the pepper air just didn't seem safer. Maybe we didn't move fast enough, but it's a big business expense and we want to make sure it's the right investment," Holliday said.
An unnamed company official at one point told the city that their workers don't complain about the odor. The Times talked to one employee, Sergio Garcia, who works near the unfiltered chile air all day without a breathing mask. "It's not so bad," Garcia told the newspaper. "You get used to it."
Lisa Bailey, president of the Irwindale Chamber of Commerce, toured the facility about three weeks ago, while chiles were being crushed. She said she didn't wear a mouth covering either and suffered no ill effects. "I didn't have any adverse reaction while I was there," she told the Times. "No burning eyes, no throat constriction, and I've had that while cooking chiles at home."
The plant is currently in the middle of a chile harvesting cycle, the Times reports, which may be why complaints have spiked.
A judge is scheduled to decide whether to grant the order Thursday, according to Irwindale City Atty. Fred Galante, who is handling the more than 30 complaints.
In the meantime, you might want to stock up on rooster sauce.