On October 28, the city of Irwindale, California, filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods, the maker of the famous Sriracha sauce, over the effects of the fumes emanating from its 64,000-square-foot factory. Residents have claimed they are suffering from headaches and irritated eyes, further noting that the bothersome odor has, in fact, ruined a child’s birthday party. Termed a “public nuisance,” the court may force a halt in production unless the factory can provide a proper solution.
Before August of this year, main sauce production was focused in Rosemead. To keep up with demands after the boom in business, the company built a new $40 million facility about 10 miles away, in Irwindale. While the building was already erected in 2011, the move was delayed to accommodate founder David Tran’s custom designed and self-installed equipment. “I remember when I first started working here,” says Director of Operations Adam Holliday. “He would hire a plumber, for example, and he would watch him and he would say, ‘That’s easy,’ and then he would do it himself.”
Today, the hot sauce industry rakes in over $1 billion a year in global sales. Yet Tran continues to run his company the way he has for years: with his eyes closed. In fact, he has not once hiked the price of Sriracha, no matter that inflation has more than tripled food prices since 1980.