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The Good Stuff – Pasta Maker’s Expanding Iowa Facilities

April 21, 2015

Construction gets underway this month for a $26.5 million expansion of the Barilla Group’s Ames, Iowa, pasta plant. According to the Associated Press, the expansion will add two new production lines, including a gluten-free line, and 23 jobs. The plant currently employs more than 160 people. Barilla has been a fixture along Interstate 35 in Ames since 1999. It was then that Guido Barilla and his brothers knew that neither Italy, nor all of Europe offered the long-term growth potential to turn their business into the largest pasta processing company in the world. The Parma, Italy-based company had to come to America. Exporting pasta to the U.S. wasn’t feasible in the late 1990s. Shipping pasta from Italian plants to U.S. distributors was cost prohibitive and the U.S. imposed a heavy tariff on pasta imports.

So Barilla opened a $135 million processing plant and durum mill in Ames. But Iowa is known for corn and soybeans, not durum wheat that is used to make pasta. What Iowa did offer was transportation infrastructure including access to nationwide rail lines to bring durum in from the northern plains and southwest U.S., and interstate highways that crisscross the state giving the company easy access to restaurants and retail food stores throughout the contiguous states.

The Ames facility is computerized work stations control every aspect of production and meet stringent food safety regulations.  The Iowa location also offered skilled employees to operate the plant. The plant is capable of producing 54,000 boxes of pasta per hour, or 200 million pounds per year, allowing Barilla not only to become the world’s largest pasta maker, but also the leading pasta maker in the U.S. The expansion project was highlighted in a recent Bloomberg jobs report and is slated to be completed in October 2015.



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Iowa Economic Development Authority
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Des Moines, Iowa 50309
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