Flanked by a five-piece brass band, Zatarain’s executives on Monday celebrated the completion of a new 80,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility in Gretna that will double the food and spice company’s physical footprint, providing space for future growth and new equipment expected to make its operations more efficient.
The company, known for its New Orleans-inspired product line of rice mixes, seafood boils, side dishes, Creole mustard and spices, broke ground on the new facility last year. It’s slated to be in full operation by the end of 2016, officials said.
The facility will house 10 production lines as well as ingredient silos and additional storage areas.
Franklin Mooney, the plant’s operations manager, said Zatarain’s was running out of space in its former facility, which is adjacent to the new building and will remain in use. The expansion gives the company room to grow.
“We’ll have so many different people doing so many different functions on these production lines,” Mooney said.
The $26 million addition was built with efficiency in mind: It has fluorescent lights, a white roof that reflects sunlight and an air-cooling system that’s 25 percent more energy-efficient than the one in Zatarain’s old building. New parking and loading areas are designed to improve deliveries and ease the flow of traffic on nearby First Street.
In addition, new equipment will improve the pace of operations. For example, it now takes 10 minutes to blend a batch of spices. That time will be cut to one minute.
The company now produces about 6 million cases of Zatarain’s products each year, said Jill Pratt, the general manager.
Zatarain’s officials gave a tour Monday of the new facility, which was mostly bare except for a stage area and seats set up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which featured brief remarks from various local officials. A large Zatarain’s banner hung from the ceiling; the exhaust pipes and beams in the plant were red to match the logo.
Zatarain’s employees filled out the crowd. At the end of the ceremony, they toasted the company’s progress by raising a glass of root beer, a nod to Zatarain’s founding in 1889 as a producer of root beer extract.
Zatarain’s was acquired in 2003 by McCormick & Co. Inc., the world’s largest spice maker. Zatarain’s has about 230 employees in Gretna.
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