Cured meat

GLOVERSVILLE – Employment and sales are up at the Pata Negra plant on Harrison Street after its acquisition by Spanish cured ham company Espuna.

Espuna officials conducted a tour for local economic development officials and for New York state Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets Richard Ball Thursday.

Espuna U.S.A. General Manager Esteve Espuna, who’s family owns Espuna, said that since Espuna purchased Pata Negra his company has increased employment from 3 employees to 9 employees working in Gloversville, as well as increased the size of the operation from 15,000 to 20,000 square feet at the Harrison Street plant. Esteve Espuna wouldn’t comment on the amount of money that has been spent at the plant, or for the acquisition of Pata Negra, but said the Phase 1A expansion has included 3 new drying rooms for the company’s cured meats, a high performance slicing line, a new packaging machine and a new “stuffer and inker.” He said the Phase 1B expansion is ongoing now and will include 1 or 2 new employees as well as expanding the operation to 23,000 square feet and the installation of a new mixer and a new grinder.

Esteve Espuna said he expects Espuna will double the U.S. sales Pata Negra had by the end of this year, largely due to Espuna including its cured ham products in the company’s line of products.

“We had an interest in this company, we started acquiring them in July 2015 and then bought 100 percent of the company in January. We are looking to expand into North America to sell our products and that’s difficult to do from Spain. Inspection agencies need to inspect your product, it’s far away and you need a place to store it. It makes more sense to have the logistics center here and our production center here. It’s a lot more flexible to have it here,” Esteve Espuna said. “One of the main things we liked about this plant was that it was up and running and the previous owners did a really good job. All of our dry cured sausages will be manufactured here in Gloversville and we will import our cured hams from Spain. What we do with our hams is we put them in salt and we cure them for one or two years and then we ship them here. That’s 60 percent of our business, cured hams, worldwide.”

Pata Negra had been a U.S. limited liability corporation that was started by Spanish investors. The company specialized in Spanish-style chorizos, which are age-cured by six-weeks of air-curing rather than South American-style chorizos, which are typically heat-cured and contain preservatives. Pata Negra’s Imperial Chorizo also includes paprika, a red pepper cultivated in Spain.

Esteve Espuna said his company is going to maintain the Imperial Chorizo brand, which has developed a customer base in specialty and gourmet grocery stores, as well as Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, but the product will be improved because it will now be made with only antibiotic-free meat.

“We are starting to see sales growth,” Esteve Espuna said.

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth President and CEO Ron Peters said his organization is trying to help Espuna grow.

“Right now we trying to help them get their products into local super market chains and get their products out to the rest of the United States. Getting the product on the shelves, that’s the game,” Peters said.