Business & Real Estate

West Sacramento picks up another Japanese food manufacturer

West Sacramento on Friday added another company to bolster its claim as a global food industry hub.

Shinmei Co. Ltd., one of Japan’s largest rice millers and distributors, formally announced that it will build a $10 million, 28,000-square-foot U.S. headquarters and production plant on six acres in West Sacramento’s Southport Business Park.

The company plans to open doors in June next year, with an initial wave of 100 workers. Within years, and if planned expansion occurs, that number could swell to up to 500, officials said.

The new facility will produce Shinmei’s “Rice Bun,” a rice product marketed as a gluten-free alternative to traditional burger buns. The product already is sold in markets worldwide, including Australia, China and Singapore. Rice Buns can be made from brown or white rice and produced in multiple flavors.

Significantly, Shinmei officials stressed that the company wants to draw rice for its product from growers in the Sacramento region.

“Our goal is to build relationships with the agricultural sector by collaborating with local rice farmers, integrating our Rice Bun product into the U.S. market and streamlining our entire process from beginning to end,” said Mitsuzo Fujio, president of Shinmei USA Corp.

Fujio added that he’s hopeful the Rice Bun will enhance Americans’ taste for rice, “Japan’s most treasured commodity, as a key part of their everyday meals.”

During a welcoming sake ceremony at West Sacramento City Hall that included local and state officials, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon talked up his city’s reputation as an international food industry hub.

“From West Sacramento, businesses are producing and shipping product around the world,” he said.

Just two months ago, Japanese food-seasoning company Nippon Shokken opened its first U.S. plant in West Sacramento, also in the Southport park. That plant has the capacity to employ up to 400 workers. On Friday, officials of Shinmei referred to Nippon Shokken as a “neighbor” that can supply spices for Shinmei products.

Other West Sacramento-based food industry players include Raley’s, Nor-Cal Beverage Co. and Tony’s Fine Foods. In recent months, West Sacramento has seen Bayer CropScience relocate to the city from Davis and the planned expansion of Norway-based conglomerate TOMRA Sorting Solutions, which signed a long-term deal at the Riverside Commerce Center near Interstate 80.

“Food production is a major component in the global economy. West Sacramento has the location and transportation modes which provide businesses a foundation to succeed,” Cabaldon said.

The West Sacramento Shinmei facility will be constructed by a partnership that includes Sacramento-based Potter-Taylor & Co., the MacLaughlin Co. and global management consultants Victus Partners.

Officials said Shinmei’s choice of West Sacramento for its U.S. base was helped by a collaborative effort that included the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization and Ridge Capital Inc., a Northern California-based real estate investment and development firm that manages Southport Business Park.

One of those joining in Friday’s welcoming celebration was state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who said he was overjoyed about a job-building business coming to the area “after so many years of a lot of rough news.”

Shinmei Co. Ltd. is based in Kobe, Japan. Its affiliate, Genki Sushi, is a chain of more than 200 sushi restaurants in Japan and worldwide.