Huy Fong Foods is an American hot sauce company based in Irwindale, California.[1] It was founded by David Tran, a Vietnamese-born immigrant, beginning in 1980 on Spring Street in Los Angeles's Chinatown.[2] It has grown to become one of the leaders in the Asian hot sauce market with its sriracha sauce, popularly referred to as "rooster sauce" or "cock sauce"[3] due to the image of a rooster on the label.

Huy Fong Foods, Inc.
匯豐食品公司
Company typePrivate
IndustryHot sauce
FoundedFebruary 5, 1980 (1980-02-05) in Los Angeles
FounderDavid Tran
Headquarters,
United States
Key people
William Tran,
President
Yassie Tran Holliday,
Vice President
ProductsAsian-style hot sauce
OwnerTran family
Number of employees
≈200 (2023)
Websitewww.huyfong.com
Huy Fong Foods
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese食品公司
Simplified Chinese食品公司
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetCông ty Thực phẩm Hối Phong
Chữ Hán公司食品

Products

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The company's most popular product is its sriracha sauce. The primary ingredients are peppers, garlic, and sugar.[4] It was originally made with Serrano peppers and is now made with red Jalapeño peppers, reducing the overall pungency.[citation needed] It is currently Huy Fong Foods' best-known and best-selling item, easily recognized by its bright red color and its packaging: a clear plastic bottle with a green cap, text in five languages (Vietnamese, English, Chinese, French, and Spanish) and the rooster logo. One nickname for the product is "rooster sauce”, for the logo on the bottles.[5] In contrast to similar hot sauces made by other manufacturers, Huy Fong's sriracha sauce does not contain fish extract, making it suitable for most vegetarians.

Huy Fong also makes sambal oelek and chili garlic sauces.[6]

History

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Founding and early history

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Huy Fong Foods was founded by David Tran (born 1945), an ethnic Chinese businessman and a former Major in the South Vietnamese Army.[7] Tran, after leaving Vietnam in a cargo boat, arrived in Boston in the spring of 1979 as a part of the migration of the Vietnamese boat people following the Vietnam War.[8] Shortly after arriving in Boston, Tran called up his brother-in-law in Los Angeles, and decided to move there after learning that there were red peppers.[9]

After arriving in Los Angeles, Tran established his own hot sauce company, which he named after the Huey Fong freighter that brought him to the United States.[10] The rooster symbol that is a part of the Sriracha branding came from the fact that Tran was born in the Year of the Rooster on the Vietnamese zodiac.[7][11][8] He incorporated Huy Fong Foods, Inc. in February 1980, within a month of arriving in Los Angeles.[12] He had previously made hot sauce with his family while working as a cook in the South Vietnamese army.[13][12] He began selling hot sauces to local Asian restaurants out of a van, making $2,300 in his first month in business.[10]

Tran considers Huy Fong Foods to be a family business. His son William Tran is the company president and daughter Yassie Tran-Holliday is vice president.[14]

Production

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Huy Fong Foods Headquarters, Irwindale, California

In 1987, Huy Fong Foods relocated to a 68,000-square-foot (6,300 m2) building in Rosemead, California, that once housed toymaker Wham-O.[5] In 2010, the company opened a factory in Irwindale, California, on 23 acres (9.3 ha), a facility having 26,000 square feet (2,400 m2) of office space, 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) of production space, and 480,000 square feet (45,000 m2) of warehouse space,[15] which is now the manufacturing site of all three of the brand's sauces. These sauces are produced on machinery that has been specially modified by David Tran, who taught himself machining and welding skills. Since 2014, the Irwindale factory has been open to visitors, and has become a tourist attraction.[5][16]

The chili odor that emanated from the Irwindale factory upset the community's residents and the city of Irwindale filed a lawsuit[17] against Huy Fong Foods in October 2013, claiming that the odor was a public nuisance and seeking an ex parte order to shut down the factory.[18][19] Los Angeles Superior Court judge Robert H. O'Brien initially refused the emergency request, but less than a month later, he ordered the factory to partially shut down.[20][21] The city dropped the lawsuit on May 29, 2014, following a meeting brokered by then-governor Jerry Brown between the city and the company.[22][23]

In Huy Fong Foods’ production at these facilities, the company begins with purchase of chilis grown in Ventura, Los Angeles, and Kern counties and production of a mash from these; most of each year's chili mash is produced in just two months, during the autumn harvest. Earlier, the company used serrano chilis but found them difficult to harvest. The product made from the natural mash is processed such that the final product contains no artificial ingredients.[citation needed]

The company has never advertised its products, relying instead on word of mouth.[24] Production and sales of the sauces are sizeable; in 2001, the company was estimated to have sold 6,000 tons of chili products, with sales of approximately $12 million. In 2010, the company produced 20 million bottles of sauce in a year.[15] As of 2012 it had grown to sales of more than $60 million a year.[7] In 2019, the company had a 10% share of the $1.55 billion hot sauce market in the United States.[9] The company generated over $150 million in revenue as of 2022.[13]

The company has warned customers about counterfeit versions of its sauces.[25][third-party source needed]

Pepper supply

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In 1988, Huy Fong Foods entered a partnership with Underwood Ranches, a farm in Ventura County, after Underwood Ranches' owner Craig Underwood wrote to Tran with an offer to grow jalapeños for Huy Fong Foods.[26] The partnership would last for 28 years. Huy Fong foods initially required more peppers than Underwood ranches could produce, so it contracted with other farmers as needed. As Huy Fong Foods' success grew, so too did Underwood Ranches' pepper production. By 2006, Underwood Ranches was growing 95% of peppers used by Huy Fong Foods.[27] Huy Fong Foods' relationship with Underwood Ranches ended in 2016 after Tran attempted to lure Underwood Ranches' chief operations officer to work for Chilico, a company formed by Tran that would obtain and manage the peppers used by Huy Fong Foods, and tried to drastically cut payments to the ranch.[27] Underwood Ranches claims this left them with no other option but to end the partnership. Huy Fong Foods filed a lawsuit against Underwood Ranches seeking a $1.4 million refund of payments Huy Fong Foods had made in 2016. Underwood Ranches filed a cross-complaint against Huy Fong Foods alleging breach of contract, promissory estoppel and fraud. The jury unanimously ruled in favor of Underwood on the grounds of breach of contract and fraud.[28] Huy Fong Foods was ordered to pay Underwood Ranches $23.3 million in compensation for damages.[26][27][29]

In June 2022, Huy Fong Foods temporarily halted the production of the chili sauce. This decision was prompted by a severe shortage of chili peppers caused by a drought in Mexico that affected the quality of the peppers.[30][31] While production soon resumed in the fall, the company soon declared another "unprecedented inventory shortage" in April 2023, offering no estimate as to when this shortage might be resolved.[32] An August 2023 CNBC special program claims that the shortage was caused by Huy Fong switching pepper suppliers, as Underwood still has production capacity (land, irrigation, processing) for the needed peppers.[33]

The company again announced production suspension in May 2024 until September 2024 at the earliest due to chili sourcing, although their competitors are not experiencing shortages.[34][35]

Awards and recognition

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In December 2009, Bon Appétit magazine named its Sriracha sauce Ingredient of the Year for 2010.[36] Huy Fong also two awards including the 2017 FABI culinary award in Chicago at the National Restaurant Association.[37]

References

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  1. ^ Contact Us, Huy Fong Foods, archived from the original on January 25, 2010, retrieved February 26, 2010.
  2. ^ Shyong, Frank (April 12, 2013). "Sriracha hot sauce purveyor turns up the heat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2023.
  3. ^ Usborne, Simon (November 20, 2013). "Sriracha hot sauce: Heated dispute". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on May 24, 2022. Retrieved June 29, 2015. But like most obsessives, Erskine is fiercely loyal to 'rooster sauce' as some know the brand (in the US it is sometimes also called 'cock sauce').
  4. ^ Communications, Emmis (April 2001). Los Angeles Magazine. Emmis Communications. p. 72.
  5. ^ a b c Once Secretive Sriracha Factory Becomes California's Hottest Tourist Attraction Archived 2017-12-23 at the Wayback Machine, Forbes, Sep 24, 2014
  6. ^ "Huy Fong Foods - Products". Archived from the original on April 10, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Shyong, Frank (April 12, 2013). "Sriracha Hot Sauce Purveyor Turns Up the Heat". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Edge, John T. (May 19, 2009). "A Chili Sauce to Crow About". New York Times. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  9. ^ a b O'Donnell •, Noreen (May 11, 2021). "David Tran's Sriracha Can Still Crow Over Its Place in the US Market". NBC Connecticut. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  10. ^ a b "The Great Sriracha Battle Is Coming to America". Bloomberg.com. April 6, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  11. ^ Clemens, Randy (2011). The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes that Pack a Punch. Random House. p. 10.
  12. ^ a b Starr, Alexandra (May 15, 2014). "How I Fled Communism and Built a Super Successful Company". Inc.com. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  13. ^ a b "Why Sriracha Is Everybody's Favorite Hot Sauce". HowStuffWorks. April 8, 2022. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  14. ^ "Sriracha: Track the incredible journey of a red hot sauce". The Economic Times. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Huy Fong Foods is moving to Irwindale". The Scene. Los Angeles: NBC. October 21, 2010. Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  16. ^ Blau, Christine (April 16, 2015). "Sriracha: Hot Sauce House Tour". National Geographic Traveler. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Memmott, Mark (October 29, 2013). "Sriracha Factory Under Fire For Fumes; City Sues". NPR. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  18. ^ Rogers, John (October 30, 2013). "City: Odor from Sriracha chili plant a nuisance". Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013.
  19. ^ City of Irwindale, et al. v. Huy Fong Foods Inc., BC525856 (Los Angeles Superior Court 2013-10-31).
  20. ^ "Sriracha lawsuit: Judge denies Calif. city's bid to close hot sauce plant", News, CBS, October 31, 2013, archived from the original on November 1, 2013, retrieved November 2, 2013.
  21. ^ Shyong, Frank (November 27, 2013). "Effect on Sriracha supply unclear after partial shutdown ordered". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 28, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  22. ^ Shyong, Frank (May 29, 2014). "Sriracha truce brokered with help of Gov. Jerry Brown's office". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  23. ^ Shyong, Frank (May 29, 2014). "Sriracha lawsuit dropped; Irwindale tables public nuisance resolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
  24. ^ BBC Staff (December 21, 2013). "Sriracha: How a Sauce Won Over the US". BBC News. Archived from the original on September 16, 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  25. ^ "Counterfeit.htm". Huy Fong Foods. September 14, 2004. Archived from the original on March 11, 2006. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  26. ^ a b Kisken, Tom (April 18, 2019). "Sriracha partnership flames into Ventura County court battle; $20-plus million at stake". Ventura County Star. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  27. ^ a b c Huy Fong Foods, Inc. v. Underwood Ranches, LP, 66 Cal.App.5th 1112, 281 Cal. Rptr. 3d 757 (Cal. Ct. App. 2021)
  28. ^ Nagpaul, Sunny (February 11, 2024). "Sriracha shortage: Meet Craig Underwood, the chili pepper farming millionaire". Fortune. Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  29. ^ "Sriracha maker Huy Fong ordered to pay millions in damages to chili pepper supplier it severed ties with after three decades". NBC News. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  30. ^ Chiara Grimes (June 9, 2022). "Sriracha shortage: What you need to know". CNN. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  31. ^ "'Unprecedented' Sriracha Sauce Shortage May Last for Months". Bloomberg.com. June 9, 2022. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  32. ^ Saint-Louis, Tai. "Another Sriracha Shortage Is Underway — Here's What's Happening". Kitchn. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  33. ^ CNBC (August 17, 2023). "How Did The Sriracha Shortage Happen?". YouTube. Retrieved October 3, 2023. / Text version: Baker, Ryan (August 19, 2023). "Huy Fong Foods' sriracha shortage has been ongoing for three years. Here's why it could have been prevented". CNBC.
  34. ^ Guynn, Jessica. "A sauceless summer? Huy Fong pepper supplier problem stalls Sriracha production". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
  35. ^ Morales, Christina (May 9, 2024). "Another Sriracha Shortage May Be on the Horizon. What Happened?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
  36. ^ Von Biel, Victoria (December 16, 2009). "Best Foods of the Year from Bon Appetit". Bon Appétit. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  37. ^ "Red Gold In The News". Redgoldfoods.com. August 16, 2018.

Further reading

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