Schar USA Groundbreaking: My Day Supporting & Reporting

January 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm 2 comments

A major milestone in US gluten-free food industry was made this week as Schar USA, the American based division of leading gluten-free manufacturer, Dr. Schar Srl., broke ground on their first stateside gluten-free manufacturing facility.

I had the privilege of representing NFCA at the groundbreaking event, and was thrilled to attend in support of one of our organization’s dedicated sponsors!

The future site of gluten-free heaven, the Schar USA plant!

Schar has been a huge part of NFCA’s efforts to raise gluten-free awareness in the food industry, participating in our NRA Showcase Pavilion, Northwest Arkansas Education Day, and Appetite for Awareness events.

Personally, I’ve had the honor of developing a close relationship with Schar USA RD, NFCA Medical Advisory Board Member, and celiac rock star, Ann Lee. Recently, Ann and I worked together on NFCA’s Getting Started Guide , making needed updates and revisions to this critical patient resource.

The Schar team. Check out NFCA fans Ann Lee, RD (red hat), and VP Donna George (tan coat).

While I was able to Tweet many of the exciting details in real time (@whitneyE1216), here’s a recap and some fast facts about Schar USA’s new facility:

  • Dr. Schar opened its US commercial office back in 2007 and currently distributes 32 gluten-free products nationwide (compared to the 200+ they distribute in Europe).
  • Only 2 Schar products distributed in the US are manufactured stateside (since 2009), at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, NJ, The rest are shipped from Germany.
  • Schar USA plans to open their first US based manufacturing plant in March 2012 - that’s about 1 year from now!
  • The 15+ million dollar facility will be 50,000 square feet and bring 51 new jobs to the Gloucester Country economy in the next 2-3 years, with the potential for 500 more jobs in the years following.

You can read more about the Schar USA manufacturing plant groundbreaking on NJ.com. There were many Gloucester County officials in attendance, even the Mayor of Logan, praising Schar for bringing a boost to the local economy and a story to Jersey that doesn’t involve…‘Those kids from the Shore’.

Schar CEO Hannes Berger, just before our introduction!

The absolute best part of the day was meeting Schar CEO Hannes Berger, who traveled all the way from Italy to attend the event!

During his presentation, Mr. Berger talked extensively (and accurately!) about the rapidly growing gluten-free market and expanding celiac and gluten intolerant population in the US. He spoke with incredible sincerity and conviction as he discussed Schar’s passion and commitment for serving our gluten-free community by producing safe and delicious products.

“Our aim with this facility is to bring innovative, tailor-made products for the U.S. celiac population to market,” he said during his speech.

Speaking with him 1 on 1 following event was fantastic. He was incredibly interested in NFCA’s work, and appreciative of our organization’s role in helping to make Schar products available in Wal-Mart Stores across the country!

He also expressed his overwhelming gratitude for the support of the entire US gluten-free community, and confessed that our demand and passion for Schar products was the sole reason for the company’s decision to build a dedicated US facility. He plans to returns to New Jersey in a few months to check on the construction progress, and then a year from now to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony.

32 and counting....we can't wait for Schar gluten-free bagels.

Finally, Mr. Berger was excited to report that a variety of NEW Schar products will be available in the US this year, including cheese nips, hot dog buns and BAGELS, which will be fortified just like popular wheat based breads!

In all, I was delighted to be standing on a cold, muddy patch of land for such a lively celebration. While it may not have looked like much to outsiders, that vacant lot represented the future that Schar, NFCA, and celiacs everywhere envision: one of unlimited possibility and safe, widely available gluten-free food.

-Whitney

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. K Leach  |  January 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    What fantastic news! My hope is that Schar’s consumer pricing will be lowered and reflect the benefit of having these items manufactured stateside instead of the higher priced imported items. I’m excited to see what’s next. Great job NJ!

    Reply
  • 2. John Forberger  |  February 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Excellent post! Wish I had attended the groundbreaking ceremony in my home state. Was Hannes the class act everyone says? So happy they chose NJ and hope their domestic residence will lower prices a tad.

    -John
    @GlutenFreeTri

    Reply

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