Grain News

Barilla Iowa Plant Up and Running

Date Posted: August 18, 1999

Barilla, the Italian manufacturer that is the world's largest pastamaker, has begun full production at its first U.S. facility in Ames, IA, according to a feature article released today by the Associated Press wire service.

The huge 510,000-sq.-ft. plant, durum mill, and warehouse turn durum wheat into 22 different kinds of pasta. The facility can be seen for miles by drivers on Interstate 35 and has been decorated with Barilla's distincitive red, white, and blue logo on both sides of the mill.

The plant, which is an exact duplicate of a new Barilla plant built simultaneously in Foggia, Italy, employs only 102 people while running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Computer stations throughout the plant allow workers to monitor operations and start and stop equipment as needed with a few clicks of a mouse.

Barilla officials say they selected Ames because of the Iowa work ethic, a central U.S. location, proximity to two interstate highways and a Union Pacific rail line, and $6 million in local and state incentives.

"We did a national search of where to locate the plant, and Ames really came out on top," said Plant Manager Dave Bramow. "With the combination of the highway and the rail traffic, it was just a real fit for us. Iowa is really an agribusiness area. And even though it's corn, it's still agriculture-driven. To bring wheat here, it really wasn't unknown to a lot of people in Iowa."

For years, Barilla had shipped pasta to North America from Europe. The new plant makes the supply line much shorter. It also offers a bypass for Barilla to reach this continent at a time of rising trade tensions between the United States and the European Union.

The pasta plant has three production lines, with a total capacity of 54,000 boxes of pasta per hour or 200 million lbs. per year. Some 25,000 U.S. retail outlets, 90% of the total, now carry Barilla products.

Worldwide, Barilla employs about 7,000 people, with annual sales of more than $2 billion. It operates eight other pasta plants, six in Italy and one each in Greece and Turkey.

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