UPDATED — Chinese plastic tableware and kitchenware major Taizhou Fuling Plastics Co. Ltd. plans to set up its first U.S. production plant in Lehigh County, Pa.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's office announced the project the morning of May 29.
In a May 31 statement to Plastics News, the company said it is setting up the factory to better develop the United States market, which accounts for about half of its total sales, save shipping costs and find an alternative to sharply rising wages in China.
Fuling, which claims to be one of the biggest exporters of plastic food service products in China, said it could open other factories in the United States.
"We will also plan to open … more [factories] in other states in [the] USA if the factory in Allentown is successful," it said in a statement.
Fuling Plastics USA Inc. has entered into a lease for an 88,000-square-foot building in Upper Macungie Township, a suburb of Allentown. It will invest more than $21 million in building improvements and new machinery and equipment. Fuling has committed to creating at least 75 new jobs within the next three years.
“We are very excited to bring our manufacturing to the United States, and especially to Pennsylvania,” stated Fuling President Guilan Jiang in a news release. “This is a great area, and we have been received very well by the state officials.”
Fuling was founded in Wenling City, Zhejiang province, in October 1992. It has three production operations and a research and development center in China. It is vertically integrated in mold making, injection molding, extrusion, thermoforming, printing and packaging.
Fuling USA's website lists the parent company's major equipment roster as more than 120 injection presses, 20 thermoformers and 10 extrusion lines.
Fuling claims to be one of the biggest exporters of plastic food service products in China. Food service customers include Wendy's, Burger King, McDonald's and Subway. It also sells through mass-merchandisers like Wal-Mart and Target.
The company told Plastics News that 90 percent of its sales are exported, with about 50 percent going to customers in the United States.
The Allentown facility is planned to open in September and will produce mainly plastic straws at first but the company will test other kitchen and tableware products on the injection molding and thermoforming equipment it plans there, it said.
The U.S. factory will be highly automated, Fuling said.
Fuling's product lines include cutlery, dining kits and drinking straws.