Amy’s Kitchen is bringing 200 jobs to Pocatello, taking over the Heinz plant that closed last summer and idled 400 workers. A specialty frozen food processor, Amy’s Kitchen expects to begin operations before year’s end and employ up to 1,000 people within several years.
Company officials were attracted to the Pocatello plant by an available workforce with food processing skills and access to crops which represent key ingredients in their product lines. Incentives from state and county government also played an important role in recruiting the company.
Based in Petaluma, California, Amy’s Kitchen produces 88 frozen meals from pizzas and pocket sandwiches to pot pies. It does not use chemical preservatives.
Founded in 1987 by Rachel Berliner and her husband Andy, the company has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The acquisition of the Pocatello plant will allow the company to expand its product lines and meet a growing demand for its entrees.
Amy’s Kitchen joined a food manufacturing industry that is a staple of the regional economy.
Data from Economic Modeling Specialists International shows a 7.5 percent decline in food manufacturing employment in southeastern Idaho between 2003 and 2013. The addition of 200 workers at Amy’s Kitchen will not be enough to halt the slide since it will be more than offset by the loss of 400 at Heinz and another 200 with the closure of the J.R. Simplot plant in Aberdeen.
However, with the addition of 200 jobs at Amy’s Kitchen, Economic Modeling Specialists estimates an additional 150 jobs will be created in other areas such as Bannock, Bingham and Power counties. Industry sectors expected to see employment gains of 10 or more – besides manufacturing – include crop and animal production, wholesale trade, retail trade, accommodation and food services, health care and government.
Should Amy’s Kitchen’s successfully increase its employment to 1,000 over the next several years, the indirect job impact will be 750 jobs in other sectors in Bannock, Bingham and Power counties. Crop and animal production would see a projected gain of 130 jobs, health care around 90 and retail trade about 80.
Indirect impact projections can be speculative. There are many factors that will affect the net job impact and wages will likely play an important role. If wages at Amy’s Kitchen are higher than those typically paid in food processing, then the indirect job creation may be higher than estimated due to the generation of additional discretionary income. If wages are lower, than the impact may be less.
Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 236-6710 ext. 3713