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Ownership by foreign companies higher than average in NEPA

Northeastern Pennsylvania has a higher-than-average rate of companies with foreign ownership, according to a report published by the Brookings Institution that looks at foreign direct investment in U.S. metro areas.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area, which includes Greater Hazleton, had 14,050 employees at foreign-owned companies, totaling 6.2 percent of all jobs, according to 2011 figures. Other metro areas average 5.5 percent employment by foreign firms.

Foreign investment in the region grew from 4.6 percent and 9,690 jobs in 1991.

The report examines direct foreign investment by totaling the number of jobs in the country’s 100 largest metro areas.

Food processing companies in Greater Hazleton and the surrounding area with foreign ownership include:

  • Bimbo Bakeries in Valmont Industrial Park, which makes bread and cake products. The company is owned by Grupa Bimbo of Mexico.
  • U.S. Cold Storage in Humboldt Industrial Park North, which provides refrigerated storage and distribution services to the food industry. The company is owned by The Swire Group, located in the United Kingdom.
  • Citterio USA in Freeland, which makes Italian meats and is owned by Citterio in Italy.
  • Mission Foods in Crestwood Industrial Park, which produces tortillas and is owned by Gruma Corporation in Mexico.
  • North Star Food Services in Pittston, which stores and distributes food products. The company is owned by Royal Ahold in the Netherlands.
  • Two Chefs Bakkavor in Jessup, a manufacturer of savory and bakery products. The company is owned by Bakkavor Group in Iceland.

Citterio USA first opened its plant in the United States 40 years ago, and has been growing its U.S. business ever since. The Freeland plant is Citterio’s only U.S. location. As many of the company’s consumers are located on the East Coast, Greater Hazleton is an ideal location for Citterio USA, said Nicholas DeiTos of Citterio.

“We are close to major markets such as Boston, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and Interstates 80, 81 and 95 help us distribute our products quickly. The bulk of our business is on the East Coast, from Boston down to Florida,” he said.

“Our plant operates entirely independently, but being owned by an Italian corporation, we are able to bring in specialty products that can’t be made here and distribute them to American consumers,” DeiTos said.

Andrew Chew, research and policy analyst for The Institute for Public Policy &

Economic Development at Wilkes University, noted the benefits of foreign ownership.

“Foreign direct investment (FDI) can bring an expansion of export trade, and by extension, economic growth. According to The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development’s 2014 Regional Indicators Report, exports in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton metro area have been strong over the last several years, totaling nearly $1.36 billion in 2012.

“Furthermore, foreign-owned establishments often bring with them new technologies and new ways of doing business. This innovation can spread throughout an industry, thereby increasing the overall strength and competitiveness of that industry,” he said.

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