Bueno Foods to add staff, freezer space - Albuquerque Journal

Bueno Foods to add staff, freezer space

Bueno Foods trucks parked at the company in 2014. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

One of Albuquerque’s most iconic food companies will soon begin a $10 million expansion project.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department announced Tuesday that Bueno Foods will begin expanding its current facility later this year, with plans calling for a 25,000-square-foot freezer warehouse.

Ana Baca, vice president of marketing for Bueno Foods, said the expansion will allow the 70-year-old company to keep more of its famous chile onsite in Albuquerque, rather than storing it in out-of-state warehouses.

“Just from an economic standpoint, we want to keep the money in New Mexico versus outside of the state,” Baca said.

Baca said she thinks this expansion will help the company keep up with increasing demand outside New Mexico.

“If we can grow and meet the demand, we obviously want to bring that money back and invest it in our people and our community,” she said.

Baca said Bueno Foods has been looking to expand its onsite freezer capacity for a few years. The company ships red and green chile, largely from Southern New Mexico, to its Albuquerque facility at 2001 4th SW to be roasted. But Baca said Bueno currently lacks the space to freeze the chile onsite for transportation, and currently has to send the frozen food to three warehouses, two of which are outside New Mexico.

“We want to reduce those costs and bring money back into New Mexico,” Baca said.

The company is expecting to break ground on the expansion in May or June, and is hopeful the project will be complete by the end of 2022.

Over the ensuing five years, Baca said the company plans to hire 49 new employees, in manufacturing, sales and other areas.

The company was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Department through the state’s LEDA job-creation fund to help fund the expansion. The city of Albuquerque is the fiscal agent for the expansion project, which also includes Industrial Revenue Bonds, according to EDD.

Baca said the expansion wouldn’t have been possible for Bueno Foods, which is coming off a difficult 2020, without the funding.

“We’re just extremely grateful to the state and city for this investment in our company,” she said.

About 60% of Bueno Foods sales are outside New Mexico, and Baca said she expects out-of-state sales to grow with the expansion. She pointed to several trends behind the increased interest in chile outside New Mexico, including a growing Hispanic population that’s driving demand for spicy food, and a growing interest in eating healthy.

“We want to spread that sunshine, that goodness that is New Mexico-grown green chile,” Baca said. “And this will enable us to do so.”

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