Ports & Terminals

Fuji Vegetable Oil Breaks Ground On Louisiana Facility

Fuji Vegetable Oil Inc. broke ground November 2 on what will become a food processing, storage and distribution complex on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish, La., near the former site of Avondale Shipyard.

The $70 million facility will create close to 40 new direct jobs with an average salary of $77,000, plus another 48 indirect jobs, according to Louisiana Economic Development. At its peak, construction of the facility will generate about 200 jobs.

Representatives of the state of Louisiana, Jefferson Parish and Fuji Vegetable Oil gathered at the site along U.S. 90 to break ground and celebrate another instance of foreign direct investment for the state and local community. Japan-based Fuji Oil Holdings owns Fuji Vegetable Oil.

“Plans for this project on Jefferson Parish’s west bank preceded our recent announcement that the legacy Avondale Shipyard site nearby has been purchased for renewed industrial development,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Both developments are great news for Jefferson Parish, New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. We are attracting investment for a new era of development on the Mississippi River, we are attracting new jobs and income growth, and we continue to reaffirm Louisiana’s position as the No. 1 state in the U.S. for per capita foreign direct investment. These are all great signs that Louisiana’s economy is headed in the right direction.”

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The plant will process palm oil, palm kernel oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil. According to Louisiana Economic Development, the growth in demand for palm oil in the United States was a primary driver for the new facility. Palm oil is a key component in cooking oil, margarine, ice cream, ready-to-eat meals, liquid detergents, soaps and shampoos, lipstick, waxes and polishes, and industrial lubricants.

“We are very excited about our expansion to Jefferson Parish,” said Fuji Vegetable Oil President Andrew Bunger. “It is an important step in Fuji’s development in the United States. We are thankful to all the people at the state of Louisiana and Jefferson Parish who have welcomed us to New Orleans. Fuji has many great partners who are making this project possible. We are breaking ground today and look forward to working with all of our new neighbors.”

Fuji Vegetable Oil was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Savannah, Ga. Its parent company, Fuji Oil Group, was started in 1950 and is based in Osaka, Japan.

Louisiana Economic Development and Fuji Vegetable Oil have been in discussions about locating a facility in Louisiana for more than two years. The company will take advantage of Louisiana’s LED FastStart workforce training program, and the state will provide the project with $250,000 for infrastructure improvements at the site.

According to Fuji Vegetable Oil leaders, the company expects to begin hiring for the project in late 2019, with completion of the facility expected by June 2020.

“This has been an outstanding year for Avondale and the West Bank of Jefferson, and Fuji Vegetable Oil represents yet another milestone in bringing back an important economic engine for the greater New Orleans region,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc., an economic development organization for the New Orleans area. “Fuji Vegetable Oil is a great addition to our business community, complementing our growing food manufacturing industry. We look forward to supporting their success here.”

The announcement comes on the heals of Avondale Marine LLC, a joint venture of T. Parker Host and Hilco Redevelopment Partners, finalizing the acquisition of the former Avondale Shipyard property from Huntington Ingalls Industries in early October (WJ, October 8).