Goya Foods has broken ground on its new headquarters and distribution center in Jersey City, but will be keeping some of its operations in its current location of Secaucus. Goya Foods President Robert Unanue told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that New Jersey is a great place for the company logistically and an $82 million tax credit factored into the decision to stay in the Garden State.
Unanue said Goya was considering Pennsylvania and New York in addition to New Jersey for its headquarters. “We were considering a lot of options since about 2004 as we were looking for a bigger facility that would incorporate all of our operations,” he said. “We settled for this.”
He explained that Goya was close to moving out of New Jersey, where it has been since 1974 when it moved from Brooklyn to Secaucus. The new facility in Jersey City will be nine-tenths of a mile from the Secaucus location. “We’re going to move manufacturing into the current facility and then build a 638,000-square-foot distribution facility,” Unanue said.
Unanue said Goya does well during periods of recession because it sells basic foods to the masses at low cost. The economic downturn has impacted the way Goya operates, however. “Basically what we’ve been doing is getting smarter. The way we used to do business, moving product. Nowadays you have to have your IT in order, your technology, logistics,” he explained. “Your warehouse has to be smarter.”
Getting products to stores is a large expense for Goya. “Our products are heavy and cheap so the freight can take up to 30 percent or more of the cost of the product,” Unanue said. “We’re currently building a large facility in Texas which is located off of I-9 just west of Houston, which will be rail served. Rail provides a cheaper alternative to over the road freight.” The Texas location will also allow Goya to be more centrally located in the United States, saving on costs.
Goya is often referred to as the largest Hispanic food company in the U.S. With a growing Hispanic population in the country, Goya has done well, but Unanue said catering to that group isn’t the only way the company has been successful.
“We’ve always had our hand on the pulse of the Latino community but also the Portuguese, oriental and we’ve branched out into the general market as well with our healthy food so we try to keep abreast and relevant in the Hispanic community,” he said. “It’s growing and we’re growing with it.”