Gruma, the world’s largest tortilla company, unveiled plans Friday to build a major factory in Panorama City, part of a growing influx of Mexican spending in the U.S. In an announcement timed with a visit here by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Gruma said it would spend $51.5 million to build the tortilla and chip plant, which is expected to employ about 350 workers and open in 2008. The factory, which would operate under the Mission Foods brand, would be about the same size as the firm’s facility in Rancho Cucamonga, billed as the world’s largest tortilla factory, with the capacity to crank out more than 300 million pounds of tortillas and chips a year. The proposed tortilla behemoth is the latest example of U.S. investment by Mexican businesses searching for new customers and faster growth. In the process they have defied predictions that pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement would send all jobs and investment south.
Checking with this source, we see that U.S. direct investment in Mexico rose from $10.3 billion in 1990 to $71.4 billion in 2005. It does appear that under NAFTA, a lot of investment went south. As far as investment coming north, Mexican direct investment in the U.S. was less than $1 billion in 1990 and was less than $9 billion as of 2005. Nonetheless, I’m happy that Gruma plans to build a tortilla in Los Angeles.
You find Gruma’s Annual Report for 2005 here. Yahoo also provides select information including the fact that in 2005, Gruma sold almost $2.5 billion in tortillas and related products. Gruma is even opening a tortilla factory in Shanghai, China.
Maybe I’ve become very much part of Los Angeles as I find there isn’t much better than fresh tortillas – especially on Cinco de Mayo!