Jerky plant could bring 100+ jobs to Richland

Old Trapper Smoked Products Inc., a key player in the $4 billon meat snack industry, plans to build a large food processing plant in Richland.

The company, based in the Portland suburb of Forest Grove, intends to build a 50,000-square-foot facility employing 100 to start at Horn Rapids Industrial Park. The payroll could grow to 300 with future expansions.

The city of Richland is expected to finalize a $1.3 million property sale to Beef Expansion LLC, aka Old Trapper, for a 20-acre site on the west side of Kingsgate Way north of 4 Paws DogWorks and across the street from the Washington National Guard’s new Readiness Center.

The matter is expected to be on the city council’s May 17 agenda.

The city’s economic development committee reviewed the project in April and recommended council approval. The sale price translates to $65,000 per acre.

Old Trapper will begin with a 50,000-square-foot facility and could add up to 150,000 square feet of additional space in future phases, according to the offering documents.

No barns or cattle processing is planned, said Robert Leary, chief marketing officer of Old Trapper. Leary characterized the deal as an expansion.

“We are investigating a facility there and we are really excited about it,” he said.

(Courtesy Old Trapper)

The city will retain the right to repurchase the land if the company does not submit an application for approval of its building plans within 18 months of the sale closing, and if construction has not commenced within 30 months.

Charles Laird of Tippett Co. represented Old Trapper, which submitted a letter of intent to buy the city-owned site in February. In the past decade, the family-led company expanded to more than 110,000 square feet of manufacturing space at its home base west of Portland. It employs 600.

“Old Trapper is a community focused organization that will be a valuable addition to the city of Richland,” it said in its Feb. 9 offer.

That same month, the company reported its third year of sales growth, noting that revenue grew more than 30% in 2021 despite supply chain issues that added 30% to its logistics costs.

The company said it added two packaging lines in 2021, which expanded production capacity by more than 40%. It also said it would add additional smokehouses in 2022 to increase smokehouse capacity by a further 40%, a possible sign of its plans for Richland.

“In 2022, our focus is on increasing our packaging and production capacity to continue our growth momentum and lead the beef jerky with innovation and a superior product,” it said in a press release.

Grandview Research, a market analyst, calculated the jerky snack market was worth $3.9 billion in 2019 in the U.S. with demand for protein snacks expected to keep growing.

Key competitors include Jack Link’s LLC, Oberto Snacks Inc., The Hershey Company and General Mills Inc.

Old Trapper said sales grew across all retail channels, including grocery and convenience stores.

Melinda and Dennis Evenson established Old Trapper in Tillamook, Oregon in 1969, naming their company for the trappers who once visited the coastal community.

Today, it is led by their children. Son Ole Evenson is president.

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